Kingdom Blade

is a collection of short stories that builds and portrays the evolution of our modern world into a mystical, fantasy world of wonder. Through varied techniques and styles, lengths and points of view, the Kingdom Blade short stories will deliver episodic background pieces that will lead up to a full length project.

The works in this series explain how such things as vampires, goblins, dragons, and other mystical creatures come to populate this Earth, and they will set the social, political, and geographic stage for the Kingdom Blade book to follow. 

Though many of the creatures and casts will be familiar, there has been a re-imagining, to some degree or another, of the types you know. There are also some types that will be revealed that have yet to be brought to the fantasy stage.

Any of the writings under the label “Kingdom Blade” are a part of this series; none of them are directly connected, so you can read them in any order you choose.

The Elders

Journal Entry: The Elders

We call them Elders, simply because they never die until they’re of an elderly age. No one, not even they, themselves, knew they had special power
s. In fact, it wasn’t until there was such a large concentration of them in relatively small areas that anyone even began to notice they had powers that were out of the ordinary.

It is not that they are immortal; far from it, in fact. They are susceptible to illness, injury, pain, aging, and they will eventually die. They simply cannot die until they reach a certain age. No one has yet to discover that exact age, but then, the Elders are not exactly eager to help test the limits. The best anyone has come up with is that they are simply the last of every generation to die.

It quickly became easy to recognize them. For instance, have you ever seen, or heard about, that guy who got shot some extraordinary amount of times and lived? Or, maybe you saw on the news that woman who was brutally raped and stabbed several times and somehow managed to survive. Then, there was that couple camping in the woods, that was attacked and severely mauled by a bear and, yes, lived to tell the tale. We soon came to see that these extraordinary feats of survival were, in fact, extra-ordinary. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

It’s been nearly fifty years, now, since the true Great War. Due to the amount of nuclear weapons employed by states all around the world, most of civilization was destroyed in less than a month. There now exists a few known pockets of humanity and—quite probably—a few that aren’t known. Fortunately, most of the destruction was limited to the cities of the world and their outlying areas. Thankfully, there was not enough vindictiveness to focus on targeting much of the natural, unaltered world, but there was plenty of spite in the short time the war was waged. From beginning to end, vengeful behavior perpetuated more destruction. Eventually, any city with a population of more than fifty thousand was nuked, and any cities smaller than that were ravaged to inexistence by looters, plunderers, marauders, and the like.

It did not take long for the survivors of every species that were able to start collecting in those last pockets of habitat capable of supporting them. After a few years of people—from all walks of life—slowly gather in tent villages in the wilderness, the encampments began to swell. There was the eventual evolution to organized communities, and now the struggle for control over resources has begun—both amongst the separate communities and within the communities themselves.

My name is Red, and I live in Bridge. Bridge is one of the smaller settlements in a confederacy of nine towns. The town abuts both banks of a small river and is connected by a large bridge; this is not uncommon as three other towns in our confederacy do the same further up the river. We are a fairly poor community. We have the least access to the surrounding resources. However, not many of the people living here consider this to be a problem, because it leaves our little hamlet relatively undisturbed by outsiders. We just make do with less, and we’ve gotten used to it. In fact, our Elders have been training themselves to eat less and less frequently. It appears that they are able to cope with the hunger better, and it doesn’t seem to weaken them like it would a normal human.

All-in-all, my home town is relatively boring--which suits me just fine. I hear about turmoil that plagues other communities, and I do not envy them. The relative quiet here allows me the opportunity to try to study the Elders a bit.

Journal Entry: The ElderFolk

My grandfather, Red, told me once that the ElderFolk never used to be able to heal themselves the way they do now. He thought that, once their seemingly unnatural powers of survival were recognized, they were able to hone their abilities and increase their strengths. Now the ElderFolk of Bridge have remarkably fast powers of regeneration.

For a while I suspected their abilities had something to do with the mixture of radiological effects on their natural capabilities, but—from what I’ve been able to gather from my short travels—none of the other people called Elders seem to be able to do what our ElderFolk can do. In fact, the rapid healing is starting to show up in some of our ElderFolk’s children, and they have never had any exposure to the fallout.

The ElderFolk now govern Bridge and protect it. We usually don’t get much trouble, because we are so small compared to neighboring towns and really don’t have that much to offer. When trouble does come, the ElderFolk have devised a little tactic that, so far, has kept us fairly safe. Most everybody hides indoors while the ElderFolk stay out in the street going about their business. One of them will attempt to negotiate with the troublemakers under the pretence of being a normal, everyday person. Sometimes a simple concession is made, and the intruders leave without a fuss. However, when a fight does occur the ElderFolk throw themselves into a feigned combat—basically falling on swords after a bit of a theatrical attempt to resist.

The performance usually appeases the marauder's thirst for blood, and then they grab some booty from the street and head out of town. They rarely take anything we wouldn’t have given them in the first place but such is the nature of the aggressors. Once all is clear, the ElderFolk simply rise up and go about their day—after washing up and changing into new clothes, of course.

Granted it’s not a great system, but it seems to work. We lose less than if we were to try and resist a force we couldn’t repel in the first place, and nobody actually gets hurt. Besides, the ElderFolk don’t seem to mind the trouble. The key is that we keep the fact that we have so many ElderFolk living here a secret and that they have this new ability.

Journal Entry: The ElFolk

My name is Jared, and my family has been chronicling the progression taking place in the ElFolk for quite some time now. We have lived in Bridge for several generations, and it has become obvious something strange is happening that is not occurring elsewhere.

We still hear stories from travelers about these people called Elders and there amazing abilities to not be killed. Some of them have risen up and made themselves kings over small domains. Others lead bands of scavengers and travel across the lands. There are many more stories out there, but none of what I hear is nearly as impressive as what is happening here.

These Elders, people speak of, still have to take good deals of bed rest to recuperate from wounds and illnesses; our ElFolk do not. Plus, the ElFolk are now living to ages much older than these Elders—not to mention regular humans—by far.

Other towns have continued to try and grow and become more sophisticated, but that tends to draw the attention of undesirables in some fashion or another. Either they’ll be attacked and have any accomplishment they’ve achieved taken, or hordes of people will flock to these towns hoping to share in whatever new luxury has come about. However, here in Bridge, we’ve gone the other way.

Our ElFolk, which used to be like those Elders, have been keeping our little community safe for many generations now. Part of how they have done this was to build our town into the landscape. The few original buildings of the town—as well as the bridge—have been maintained, but when new homes or other structures needed to be built they were dug into the hillsides, carved into large tree trunks, or constructed high up in the branches. Much of the town is very well camouflaged, so, though Bridge has grown a bit over the years, it still looks quite small and harmless.

We are very passive when strangers pass through as not to arouse any trouble. When there is trouble the ElFolk bear the burden, because they now have near instant regeneration. They also seem to be able to sense when trouble is coming. Whether it is from some sixth sense or just a culmination of their heightened hearing, eyesight, or sense of smell, they are almost always able to know when the approaching visitors come with nefarious intentions. In those instances they send the rest of us into hiding and meet the visitors themselves.

As I mentioned earlier, the ElFolk have started living well past the expected age of a normal human. In fact, there are four ElFolk here who survived the Great War Long, long ago. As far as I am aware—though my travels are far from exhaustive—none of the other Elders from those times survive.

Though it is not specifically a rule, for the most part, the ElFolk only couple amongst themselves—and their children are being born with all of their abilities. It is startling to see how evolved they are becoming. In fact, the other day someone said they saw an ElFolk extinguish a cooking fire by simply holding her hand out, palm down, and slowly pushing it down towards the flame. I shall have to keep a close eye on this development.

Journal Entry: The Elfs

My father named me Jared after his father. Both of them fancied themselves as some sort of historians tasked with recording the evolution of the Elfs in our village. They had both grown suspicious of our friends’ abilities, and—for some reason—they thought the Elfs needed to be scrutinized carefully. I never could understand what their problem was, or what they thought they could do about it, but nonetheless they expected the same of me.

I thought my father was upset when he found out I was best friends with an Elf, but—without a doubt—my father’s worst day was when my sister declared to him that she was going to marry my friend—the Elf.

Terrik was obviously quite a bit older than my sister, which is why the Elfs tended to shy away from relationships with regular humans, but for all intents and purposes they were both teenagers. It was inevitable that the two of them would end up together; after all, the three of us spent all our time together. Even though I was in no way attempting to follow in my father’s footsteps, I did pick up several interesting details about the Elfs that are not well known.

For instance, it is very difficult for two Elfs to conceive a child together. Sometimes they change pairings to try and achieve a pregnancy, but even so it is still difficult. Once an Elf becomes pregnant, she carries the child for a little over three years. That doesn’t happen when an Elf mates with a regular human. In those instances, rare as they are now, the gestation period is roughly one year. Also, they seem to be telepathic—at least when it comes to animals. This skill goes well beyond your everyday animal empathy. It doesn’t happen out loud, but Terrik has told me that they can have near flawless conversations with animal-kind. And, though I’ve never seen it, some people say that the Elfs can move water and tree vines without touching them. However, whenever I asked Terrik about stories of that nature he denied them, and—until my sister died—I believed him.

As has been well chronicled, the Elfs were very peaceful people who lived in harmony with regular humans, but all of that changed in one day. For many generations the Elfs and their ancestors had defended Bridge from criminals with their possum act, and it is possible it may have gone on that way for many more. However, one day, when the Elfs alerted the townspeople to hide because hostile riders were coming near, my sister refused to leave Terrik’s side.

Because she wouldn’t leave, he grabbed her and ducked inside one of the street-side shops. They both squatted down to watch the situation from behind some display tables that had scarfs and other garments hanging down the sides. The party that rode into town was a particularly rough looking bunch. There were thirty, or so, and they were definitely out for spoils.

Not content to simply have their booty given to them, they began firing crossbow bolts and arrows into the people of Bridge. Several dismounted their horses and began slicing at people with their swords. When the street had fallen silent, with the Elfs playing their roles as corpses, the only thing that could be heard was the labored breathing of the attackers in the street and a small steady moaning from the garment vendor’s shop.

Just as most of the attackers had focused their attention towards the crying from the shop the scarfs parted and Terrik walked out. His hands were drenched in blood and he was carrying a bloodied arrow clinched tightly in his fist. From my vantage point in the trees, I could see tears freely streaming down his face. Though I did not know it for certain at the time, my sister had died and so, too, had the peaceful relationship between our peoples.

A look of anger, which I had never seen on any Elf, contorted Terrik’s face. Several of the bandits began to approach him, and he quickly dodged his way through them. The attackers were not aware of the increased speed and reflexes Terrik’s people enjoyed, because—since its establishment—all any outsiders knew about Bridge was that it was an easy target populated by weaklings who never fought back. To be fair, I was nearly as surprised as they were when Terrik danced his way through their storm of sword swings unscathed; pushed one rider over, mount and all; grabbed the bridle of a particular horse, yanking its head nearly to the ground; and thrust the clutched arrow through the heart of the mounted bowman.

As the dying man’s comrades started to advance, intent on avenging their fallen’s death, Terrik’s fists jutted outwards, and then up towards the heavens, while he screamed in a rage that terrified all who were present. The other Elfs broke their poses of death and began to move slowly out of the street, nearer to the buildings. It was clear they were no more aware of what was about to happen as any of the rest of us.

Before Terrik’s scream came to a stop one stream of flame came shooting out of each of his fists and seared high into the sky. His scream stopped abruptly, and at the same time he slammed his arms back down to his sides. There was a thunderous boom when the streams of flame slammed to the ground. At that point there was two streams of flame, approximately twenty feet long each, writhing on the ground in a serpentine manner at Terrik’s sides.

No one had ever seen anything like this, so, of course, people began to scatter. For the Elfs, that was fine, but for the rest of us... Terrik began indiscriminately swinging his arms, wielding his streams of fire like whips, and ripping buildings like paper—starting them aflame in the process. The results for the humans he would hit were far worse. When a body would be hit, it seemed to explode in a spray of blood and bone. Unfortunately, he was not only hitting the intruders. Luckily, most of the human residents of Bridge had scattered off into the woods when the alert came earlier, but many—like myself—tended to stay nearby because we knew the Elfs would handle everything. Now, we were falling victim to the same retribution my sister’s killers were.

Terrik finally stopped after all the buildings in town were completely destroyed—or well ablaze—and all the intruders were either dead or had retreated beyond his sight. He yelled out that humans were the scourge of the Earth and they were no longer welcome in Bridge. He said any human seen in or near town would be killed without hesitation. Everybody who could hear him immediately ran further out of town to find any friends or loved ones that might be hiding in the woods and warned them not to return.

I just stayed in my tree, watching Terrik pace back and forth in front of the garment vendor’s shop, and fixated on the deliberate way he was saying the word humans. He had made a very clear distinction. They were no longer Elders, ElderFolk, or anything of the sort. They were a whole new race, and so we now designate them with a name of their own. And so it is, I finish this last entry into the first volume of The Book of Elves.

(The End)

The Six Cities: Prologue

The view afforded to me from my vantage point in the large tree I had climbed was admittedly closer than I would have preferred, but the risk was necessary to capture the full field of battle.

The armies of Keep Tholl had gathered to press their challenge of Lithos—one of the six great cities. As foolish as this may seem, given that Lithos was one of the last few vestiges of true magic in the realm, the force Viceroy Ta’al had gathered was unlike any I had ever seen. 

Though I am only in my thirteenth cycle, I have seen more battles than many seasoned warriors. I have always been obsessed with the idea of warfare, and, since my father runs a traveling band of mercenaries, I have had much opportunity to witness the spectacle. Of course, I never got to participate in my father’s endeavors, but I was usually able to find safe places from which to view the battles. This occasion was different, however. 

My father had been contracted by the city of Lithos as back up. This in itself was strange, since my father’s services were usually much more of a frontline effort, but, finally being able to take the whole scene in, I completely understood.

Worry for my safety had left me exiled to our company encampment a day’s paces to the east of the great city—nestled in the low portion of one of the clefts defining two of the many massive mountains that guard the rear and flanks of Lithos. This was fine for the wives and children, but I was nearly a man and—if I do say so myself—a skilled warrior. However, no matter how much training I did with my father and the other men of the company, my father still failed to recognize this fact.

Having left the safety of camp, and hiked closer in towards the city’s magnificent wall—which protruded seamlessly from the mountain encircling the city in its great crescent—I was forced to climb this beastly tree that gnarled its way out of the stone earth to get a proper view. It appears this tree had to fight for every hand (the unit of measure, that is) of its life, and all along its enormous height it bore the scars of that battle. The large crack in the stone base from which the tree had grown was dark and seemed deep. It was clear through observation that the tree had forcibly enlarged the crevice over time—just going to show that stone does not always beat wood. 

After climbing roughly thirty arms high, I had begun to get dizzy—not for lack of faith in the aged tree, for the trunk was still many arms in circumference at the place to which I had climbed, but apparently my eyes take issue with being this high off the ground. However, now—just off to the side of the great city’s perimeter, and well elevated—I had a clear and unobstructed view of the whole theater for the pending battle.

Now, as to why my vantage point gave me cause for concern. Though it did live up to its name—giving me a superior advantage in viewing this battle over anyone else who might be attempting the same, including many of those actually involved in the battle—it also put me much closer to danger than I had ever imagined when I was standing at its base.

Hiking the sparse but healthy woods below, I had no idea what was about to take place. No matter which side won, it was going to be nothing short of a massacre.

On my walk here it was not hard to catch an occasional glance of infantrymen through some of the many gaps in the trees. The invading army had formed ranks in the rolling plains that sprawled out from the city’s front gates. It wasn’t until taking my aerial position that I saw the full scope of said army.

Thousands and thousands of men—each adorned with weapons and armor—fill the plains in columns. There must be a hundred of them for every person I have ever seen in my life. To be honest, I cannot say even roughly how big the army is, because it stretches out over the horizon.

What gives me greater concern for my life at this moment is the multitude of varied siege machines—which, to my knowledge, are more destructive than they are accurate. I am not currently far from their intended target.

Having weighed my options, and seeing that I was going to be no safer scrambling back to the camp, I have decided to stay. Soon I will find out whether my fetish for studying warfare will kill me before ever actually fighting in one.

It doesn’t take an expert to see the odds are unmistakably stacked in favor of the invaders. On the field in front of the wall stands twelve groups of no more than twenty men each—most of whom carry the implements of war. The groups are in rough formations, but nothing like the precision of the Viceroy’s army. The groups are positioned in two rows of six. None of them seemed to include any of my father’s company, but from what I understood he and his men would be inside the gates to repel any breach. This was of great comfort to me now, because I had been told many stories of the impenetrable wall of Lithos—built and protected by magic and composed of the finest stone on the face of Ra’Kaar.

I am able to breathe a little easier knowing my father is safely on the inner side of the wall. Still, it seems strange that Tholl would be willing to brave its army in this fashion unless it was certain of victory. For that matter, this must be every man capable of fighting in the whole fiefdom of Tholl and then some. In fact, the king must be involved in this, because I am now able to make out the colors of at least two other fiefdoms. Why would the king sanction an action such as this? Surely it will do nothing but upset the other magic users of Ra’Kaar. At any rate, I am no longer breathing easy; this is more serious, even, than I had originally imagined. As if intended to break my line of thought, the battle has begun.

For the invaders, the start was unimpressive. Enormous horns were sounded, and the columns of troops began to march in step towards the wall. For Lithos, however, the commencement was awe inspiring.

The few men in each of the twelve groups, who are not dressed for battle as the others, are engaged in a whirl of dancing and gestures—the result of which is hundreds of man-sized posts of earth bursting out of the ground within the ranks. Needless to say, more than a little mayhem is breaking out in the columns. Some men are being thrown high into the air as the earth beneath them explodes to reveal the aforementioned posts. Others are simply slamming into them, being unable to stop before realizing the terrain has changed. Nonetheless, the army proceeds.

This one, seemingly simple, maneuver has me enthralled. Though I’ve seen carnival magicians whose trade is entertainment and illusion, I have never seen actual magic. Until now, all the magic I’ve witnessed can be seen as fraudulent when viewed with a scrutinous eye, but this. This was real magic.

Homing in on one of the central mages, I watch as he begins his performance. His hands twist in a flurry in front of him. His left leg lunges backward placing him in a crouched lunge, and his hands drop and rise in a slow scooping fashion. Now, as his hands begin another round of flourish, I can see a bright line of energy being drawn in the air with the movements of his hands. It is a tangled weave of glowing lines. At the sudden clap of his forward extended hands a large boulder—about the size of a small house—unearths itself from a flanking mountain and is hurled across the battlefield.

Luckily, the branch I am sitting on is broad and firm. Otherwise, at this last action, I surely would have fallen.

As I regain my composure, I can see the invaders picking up speed in their march. Impressive as the mages are, the army is affected very little by the numbers lost.

Paying closer attention to the mages now, I can see each of them are creating those strange glowing drawings with their performances. The final maneuver of each routine results in yet another wonderful feat of earthen magic. At this point, I cannot tell which mage is orchestrating what effect, but the battlefield is getting chaotic.

Currently, the field is dotted with several clay walls approximately six or seven arms long—apparently intended to retard the invader’s charge. A very large group of light cavalry on the army’s right flank is bogged down, franticly trying to work its way out of an even larger area of mud. On the left flank—closest to me, I might add—an impressive sized group of heavy cavalry have found themselves smashed into the bottleneck of two long stone walls that almost join to form a wide V. Some horsemen are slowly making their way through the gap, and some, a very few, are even jumping the wall. However, the melee of horse and man that is ensuing within the V has effectively neutralized the heavy horse threat. All the while, admirable barrages of rocks are heaving themselves at the scattered—but still advancing—columns of infantrymen.

As impressed as I am watching the mages draw their symbols and loose their destruction, I still can’t help but notice movement further back in the army’s ranks. The siege engines are being advanced.

Many of these machines I recognize, but there is something different about them; they are far more mechanically accessorized. Plus, there are so many beasts of burden—many more than just those needed to transport the engines. Catapults, ballistae, trebuchets, battering rams, and siege towers were being moved forward in great number by elephants. Elephants. I have heard stories of these creatures, but…I…wow…so many elephants.

The ballistae were the first to take up placement, but as I said, there is something different about these machines. Instead of simply looking like giant crossbows, these had some sort of large cylindrical assemblage merged to the bottom of each machine, as well as one large wheel—not used for transport—mounted on each side of the weapons. There is a decent sized peg extending out from each wheel.

When the ballistae come to a stop, the two elephants pulling each machine are brought around, one on both sides of their respective ballista. When the signal flags drop… Machines, elephants, and the men operating each of the rigs spring into action. Not being even vaguely able to tell how they were working, the results were unbelievable. As the animal on either side of a machine used its powerful trunk to crank its respective wheel in opposition to its partner the ballistae began firing huge wooden bolts in rapid succession. Hundreds of bolts—each two arms long and at least a hand in diameter—soar through the air right towards the groups of defenders.

Many of the bolts are being slammed off course by sizeable rocks being flung into their path, and a number of rock domes spring out of the earth to give shelter to two or three people each, but this assault kills several men in each of the twelve groups.

There are now several more mages atop the wall; they, too, are motioning full body to construct glowing symbols and committing them into actions.

A few deep fractures have been opened in the ground a hundred, or so, paces in front of the remaining defenders. Boulders are rolling to and fro taking out the occasional siege engine as well as several attackers.

Now the catapults are in place. Again, an elephant flanks both sides of each machine. This time they appear to be harnessed to a shaft protruding low from the side of the catapults. There is also a tall, vertical tube straight off the back of the machines that seem to readily drop a hefty rock into the quick firing catapults each time they’re ready to fire. The flanking beasts are walking back and forth in an oscillating pattern, and every time one of them gets to the front of the catapult a stone is hurled. Given the number of these rigs, the effect is a rain of stones.

Many of the rocks are whipped aside as if by an invisible hand, but still many carry on. This time fewer domes go up, and now the invading troops are in striking distance. Even having been deterred by obstacles and voids, the columns are still mostly well formed, and they persist with ferocity. Waves of men crash forward, and the war machines cease their fire. As the ocean laps at a cliff side, so, too, the invaders seemed to propel themselves up the wall a bit.

Large chunks of earth were turning themselves over, smashing and burying many with each churn, at the base of the wall. A new pattern of the horn is now sounding, and the columns are retreating in a well-formed, controlled manner.

The battering rams are now clearing paths through the obstacles for the teams of creatures pulling the towers, so the only maneuvering they have to do is around the voids in the ground. And, the trebuchets are now firing.

The field is now clear of any defenders; bodies and wreckage are strewn everywhere, and there remains but seven mages on the wall. Now that the accuracy of the siege engines is proving to be fairly good—and I haven’t been in any real danger—I am terrified for my family. My father, of course, is in eminent danger, but, now that the full breadth of this army is visible to me, it is entirely possible the soldiers will raid the company encampment.

With boulders flying overhead, the towers wheeling forward, and the soldiers resting at a ready halt, the ballistae and catapults are advancing to take closer positions. I am stunned. The size and implication of what I am witnessing is sinking in, as is the fact that I am helpless to do anything about it.

The trebuchets, too, are more mechanized than any I had ever seen. There seems to be a double counterweight system; one is used to propel the sling arm, and the other seems to be used to re-hoist the primary weight. The secondary is then re-hoisted by a pair of elephants while the sling is readied for the next shot. A hefty cart loaded with similarly sized boulders is placed by each machine. Two additional elephants are using their trunks and tusks to grab and load stones into each the primed slings. I wouldn’t say it cuts the firing cycle directly in half, but it definitely increases the firing speed. 

Without fail, seven of the ten boulders from each barrage are stopped short or hurled to the side. Now my focus is on the mages. So far the boulders that strike the wall are doing minimal damage. The feats of repellant magic in the field, however, have come to a complete stop—as the mages are focusing on repelling the trebuchet assault.

Just as the next salvo is being loosed from the trebuchets, the central mage swoops his hands together to the left and then the right. He makes a high sweeping arc over his head, and then slowly straightens his arms out in front of him. And then, as if it is difficult for him to do so, he squats down—pushing his arms down in their outstretched position. Upon completion of this action, the glowing symbol he had drawn vanishes, and three of the boulders slam straight down to the ground. When they hit, they continue to roll forward killing soldiers and destroying a couple siege engines before they come to a halt. Only one boulder strikes the wall this time.

Trying to pay closer attention to the maneuvers the mages are performing, I fail to notice the rest of the siege engines have reached their new positions and are ready to fire.

A ballista bolt strikes the particular mage I’m concentrating on square in the chest and sends him flying backwards off the wall. A torrent of artillery collides with the city; most of it hitting the wall, but some clears the wall into the city. The last magical act I can see is one of the boulders coming to a dead stop at the apex of its trebuchet’s arc and smashing down to obliterate the machine underneath.

The wall is crumbling in several spots, and where it’s not, the towers are being positioned. All the siege engines are being advanced and the troops are in an all-out charge. The invading army is teeming into the city.

It’s time for me to go. I know I shouldn’t be crying; I have to get out of here. It is all I can do to descend the massive tree. Tears blur my vision as I grope the trunk searching for grips to secure my uninjured escape. Running up into the mountain, with everything my legs will give me, I cannot help but sob over what is surely to happen to my family.

Finally, my panic waning, I stop running. Realizing I am in no immediate danger, I decide to try and circle back through the woods to camp.

While traversing the higher forest, I try to block out the continued sounds of destruction from within the city. For some reason, before—even though it was not an equal engagement—the wretched cacophony didn’t bother my mind nearly as bad. Perhaps that was due to me being fascinated with the displays of magic or the spectacle of improved war machines. Or maybe, it’s because now it’s no longer a battle and solely a massacre.

Even though I had predicted a massacre, I don’t think there is anything I could have done to prepare myself for the sound of it.

Before my hike is over, I hear the siege engines begin the pulverization of Lithos.

My name is Del, and I have born witness to the fall of the first of the six great cities.

(End Prologue)

<Kingdom Blade>  Glyph Writer of Sol  [Future Project]

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