Chapter One: The Fall

The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry that can on no account be neglected.

– Sun Tzu

 


 

Algrim,

Alvia province, the Capital – Greystones.

 07.13.223 S.T.

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{The seventh day of the thirteenth month, Aten, of the Year 223. Symfora Telos}

 

War. The screams of injured beasts. The thunder of iron striking iron. The booms of cannons and shouts of war rang throughout the capital. All around was nothing but a whirlwind of disorder and violence, a blur of despairing colour and vicious motion. 

In a chokepoint a few miles away from the royal castle, knights and soldiers fought savagely in the streets of a peasant neighbourhood, cutting each other down like scythes on ripe autumn wheat. 

Their parched, panting tongues collected the dust-choked air which intermixed with the bitterness of iron and copper. Deafening, their blood pounded in their ears, drumming to a ferocious beat inside their helmets. 

The Hertalean invaders had breached the bastioned wall, Maira. With the aid of traitors, they pierced a straight line through to the capital, setting ablaze all that stood in their way, desiring the fall of the Algrian castle. 

The defending Algrian fighters fought. The prolonged battles and their weighty weapons starting to take a toll on their mortal forms. But they persisted still, charging forth, fighting to reclaim lost ground, with unyielding spirits in the face of the enemy.

Far off in the distance perched on top of a small hill, a tall man, the commanding duke dressed in a dark, slightly blood-stained suit of armour, watched the battlefield with a detached gaze in his edgy, brown eyes. Upon a majestic black steed, he sat. Underneath his gore sprayed visor, sweat stung his eyes like tiny vipers as they dripped down his handsome visage.

“It looks much closer than this morning, your Majesty. It appears we are still losing ground,” Aden said blandly, as he stared at the rising smoke in the distance that was ever so slowly creeping forward.

By his side sat the king on a white steed. Younger, tall and fairly well-built with blonde hair, ice-blue eyes and handsome features. He appeared to be in his early twenties. He wore a regal, silvery suit of armour as he gazed out at the battle that lay before him.

The young sovereign’s weary gaze slid from the morbidly picturesque scenery in the distance to the duke beside him. He had grown fatigued watching the enemy desecrate his kingdom with reckless abandon.

“We would not be able to hold the inner wall, your Majesty,” Duke Aden said. “It is only a matter of time before the enemy arrives within firing range of the castle.”

“True,” King Leonard sighed in agreement.

“I never thought it would come to this, brother,” he said.

“Neither did I,” The duke replied.

“I have a request to ask of you.”

“Please command me, your Majesty.”

“Good,” the king nodded faintly.

A pause. Hesitation. 

A self-deprecating sigh.

“Flee,” the king said. “Flee along with my Queen and daughter, flee until they reach safety.”

“This? Your Majesty-”

“Aden,” the king called softly, “please, not now. We cannot afford our usual squabbles and bantering. 

“The enemy lurks amidst us seeking my downfall,” he said, glancing at his retainers who have been instructed to stay well out of earshot. “It’s only a matter of time till the castle falls as well, then nowhere would be safe here. 

“I want you to take my wife and daughter and escape. We are losing this war and you know it. If I still have the ancestor’s blessings and manage to retain the capital, you can return…

“If not, please flee Greystones and protect them as you would your own.” 

The young sovereign turned back to face the onslaught with a pained smile. His ice-blue irises seemed to have seen through the vicissitudes of life 

“This is punishment for my negligence, a tribulation I must face alone, as per my oath and royal obligation,” he sighed. “I see no benefit in dragging you and my family down along with me. This is for me to face alone.”

Aden stared at the younger man for three tense seconds before nodding, his stoic expression returning.

“If this is what you command, your Majesty, then I must comply,” the duke replied, nudging his steed, as he turned to leave.

“But remember this, Leonard…” with his back still to the king, Aden spoke.

“Hmm?” The young king gave a questioning hum without turning to face the duke.

“Stay alive, if you die I will… “

“Hehe, don’t worry I won’t,” Leonard chuckled ruefully. ”This sovereign is not so easily slain. Be on your way brother, may the ancestors be with you.”

With that Aden left his liege and sworn brother behind to his fate.

{COS}

Algrim,

Souville province, Duchy of Greenfields. 

Duke Aden’s Keep.

11.13.223 S.T.

In a room, the muted rays of the late autumn sun fell upon the body of a young man. He laid on a large bed, lengths of faintly blood-soaked bandages wrapped around his head and lower torso, tousled slick black wavy hair framing his pale effeminate face.

The young man’s eyelids fluttered briefly for a moment, his eyeballs faintly rolling underneath, before cracking open the hardened seal of their natural secretions. They opened to reveal limpid brown irises to the world.

James stared at the ceiling, confusion slowly clouding his features, his pupils contracting in doubt.

“M-milord?” A voice stammered by his side. 

Glancing to his side, his eyes met that of a woman in her early thirties standing beside him. A wet towel in her hand was frozen in midair, presumably to wipe down his naked body. Only a plain piece of cloth over his crotch area preserved his decency.

Appearing to be a caretaker of some sort, the woman had an oval face with average yet friendly facial features. Dressed in a cream-coloured linen dress with a brown tunic that faintly pronounced her mature figure, she gave off a matronly aura. Her light brown hair that fell to her back was hidden partially underneath a cream coloured wimple.

Silently they stared at each other for a few moments, the worried expression creasing her face morphing to one of barely restrained joy.

“Milord, you have awakened!” The caretaker said again to a confused James.

His gaze swept around the room, noticing it was rather modestly decorated. Wooden antique-looking bookshelves, a wooden table and chair, stone walls, an open window framed outside by withering ivy and a few unlit candles.

The room felt comfortable, minimalistic and unfamiliar… Before feeling familiar again.

Confusing thoughts. Conflicting emotions.

Curious, James sat up to get a better view or at least tried to before a pained groan spilt forth from his lips prompting him to touch the bandages by his waist. 

“Careful Levi,” A voice called out from the other side. “Rest easy, your injuries are still healing.” 

James turned to his left as another person, a man, sitting by the door stood to walk towards him.

Handsome and dressed in a dark brown tunic and hoses underneath a leather gambeson. He had a slightly chiselled face, dark brown, almost black hair and green sloe-like eyes that gave him an attention holding gaze.

“Try not to move too much, lest you stir up your injuries,” he said.

“What happened to me?” James asked before a memory flashed through his mind along with a wave of various emotions. A battle, confusion. Spilt gold from a chest, betrayal. Dead bodies with faintly familiar faces, rage, loathing. An antiquated crossbow not unlike that one from the museum next to the city hall aimed at a familiar figure, terror. And himself tumbling down a flight of stairs with pain blossoming from his torso where a bolt impaled him, pain, relief.

Not waiting for an answer, James asked another. 

“Who are you?”

The man’s expression froze, his face turning slightly ashen, before replying. “Young lord, don’t you remember? It is me, Lancelot.”

James paused for a moment before replying

“Lancelot… Lancelot Draagon?” he asked, as memories fell in place.

“Yes, yes,” Lancelot replied, relief appearing on his face.

James turned to face the caretaker by his side, ”Sarah?”

“Yes, milord,” she said with a warm smile, her expression also one of relief.

‘But, who am I?’ He asked no one in particular after a brief pause.

Silence befell the room for a few moments as Sarah and Lancelot exchanged worried glances.

“Levi, young lord,” Lancelot ventured. “You are Levi von Greinfenburg.”

“No,” James shook his head, his confusion thickening.

“No, I am not.”

Then another memory flashed through his mind. A void, a path, crossroads, a contractor.

The young man froze. 

“I am not dead?” he asked as he turned to face Lancelot, his pupils dilating as panic and disbelief flashed through them.

‘Am I?’


 

Disclosable information:

 

Bastion wall/fort- A bastion fort is a fortification in a style that evolved during the early modern period of gunpowder when the cannon came to dominate the battlefield. It was first seen in the first half a century shortly after the introduction of gunpowder weapons in Verum, Anno.


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- my thoughts:
{COS} = Change Of Scene.
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