The War in Emiria begins.
The Poisoned PrinceEdit
The king sat on his throne with a bored stare on his face. His great lords sat on either side of the high table.
"The south mobilizes! They sit on the borders of the eastern and the western kingdoms! How long till they come for us too? If we don't stand with the Katyuins and Malyions, there will be no one left to stand with us!" One of his lords announced for perhaps the third time. Jon stirred ever so slightly to look at the lord with contempt.
"Even now my sister is gods-know-where and you suggest fighting a war that doesn't involve us? You spit on my father's grave." Ivan had suggested locking up both the prince and princess after they had voiced their complaints over the exiling of their brother, Katelyn had escaped in the dead of night and taken a small retinue of guards with her. Jon had sent out many bands of guards, even hiring freelancers to try to find her. No luck as of yet, although the mercenary captain Jallus Reigin reported minor success and was "hot in pursuit".
"Your Grace. With all due respect to both you and your late father, defending our borders is a must! I will personally devote my own son and his finest to the task of finding your sister if you would assure the westerners and the easterners of our alliance." The speaker was an older and very respectable lord, Marcus Yutras III. Jon laughed.
"Your son has no value to me, and neither does the alliances of the east and the west. Damn them to hades. I have made my decision, our armies shall remain here in the north in case of an impending dwarf attack." The thought of such an attack had been on Jon's mind of late. All contact had stopped, envoys to Ironhall and other dwarven houses were refused.
"I bid you all leave Winter's Guard at dawn. Send a rider if you have information about my sister." The lords filed out, Marcus Yutras last.
"Your Highness, if you would reconsider--"
"That's enough, Marcus."
"Yes Sire." And with that Marcus walked out. The only ones left in the hall were Jon and Ivan, who appeared by Jon's side.
"That one has greater ambitions than his station. My spies have told me as much."
"I suspected so myself Ivan." The time was late and Jon retired to his quarters.
Ivan woke him up in the middle of the night.
"What time is it Ivan? Why have you come?"
"Your Grace you must come quickly." In the distance Jon heard what he though were the sound of drums. He got dressed quickly then followed Ivan out through the various twisting hallways. The beating sound got louder.
"What is the meaning of this Ivan?" His advisor simply beckoned towards a door leading out to a balcony.
Thousands of torches, the sound of beating drums, an army was approaching the castle.
A trumpet blared.
The squire had to hurry, he couldn't keep the king waiting. Especially not at a time like this. Searching through the armory the squire mulled over what all of what had happened meant, both to the west and to him personally. A rider had come with a message for the king, that his southern borders were being threatened by the armies of Tytos Korlath.
Will he really attack us? The squire thought. His family lived close to that border. He had left them after he had been chosen to be the king's squire. A nobody peasant like him had been chosen to be the king's squire. His family was overjoyed.
Now he worried for their safety.
He finally found what he was looking for, the kind's sword. He took it off the rack it was on and rushed back to the great hall. He entered quietly to the sound of two people shouting. Both were lords that the squire did not recognize.
"We have to act now! There is no time to deliberate and hope that bribery might work. We must meet Korlath's armies when they cross the border!" The second lord turned to the king.
"Your Highness, there are many houses in the south who have no love for Tytos Korlath. If we might convince a few of them to send their armies to attack World's End, we might divert a war." The king looked intrigued by this idea.
"Which houses are you suggesting?"
"There are many Your Grace, House Trewand, House Steel, perhaps even House Styrke--" The king cut him off with a wave of his hand.
"We all know full well that House Styrke has been destroyed by that rage dragon, Deathbringer." He said.
"Most of it, but there are still others who might be persuaded, I hear the lord's daughter is still alive and is hiding out in House Solus." The lord continued. King Roger sighed and then rose from his throne.
"I do not have the resources to spare to unite a broken House to my cause. Who knows, perhaps this Deathbringer will harass Korlath enough on the inside for him to withdraw portions of his forces."
"And if that dragon turns its gaze westward, Your Grace?" Yet another lord piped up. The squire thought King Roger looked very tired.
"I suppose that will have to be dealt with when the time comes. I cannot sacrifice the lives of those at the border to save one girl. However, if any sightings of the dragon appear, send a rider at once." The lords all nodded.
"Thank you. Thank you all." He said to his lords. "I will have to think about what to do next. For the future of my kingdom." The lords began to leave and the squire approached the king and knelt.
"Your Grace, here is your sword." The king took it and told the squire to rise.
"What do you make of all this?" He asked him.
"I am just a poor squire Your Grace, I do not know the ways of war." The king laughed at that and then walked to the door behind his throne, leading out to his solar. He motioned for his squire to follow.
Once again the squire was down in the armory, this time looking for the king's armor. He had heard everything the king had told his advisor in his solar, and he felt mixed feelings. The king had decided to meet Korlath's armies with his own.
He had decided to be a part of the battle himself. The squire wanted to be with him, but the king had said he had other plans for him.
"Along with others, you will travel to the southern reaches of Emiria. You will try to convince the houses of the south to turn on Korlath, it is our only hope as his army outnumbers us. Get ready to leave immediately." He had said.
The king had also had one other request for him; pass by House Solus and look for the girl. The west needed to prepare itself if half of what House Styrke's messenger said was true.
The squire vowed not to let the king down and set out at dawn.
The Monstrous KingEdit
Tytos Korlath III gazed out over his lands. Soon all of Emiria will be mine. From my rocky domain to the mountains far north. He thought to himself. The corners of his mouth made a half-snarl half-grin. A knock at the door to his balcony. A high-pitched voice spoke up.
"Your Majesty, I have news to speak of." The advisor squeaked.
"Enter." Was the king's response. The advisor slowly opened the door and approached the king. He went to one knee.
"I have news from the battlefront and of something closer to home." The advisor said nervously. He was a small man, and although he was always nervous or worrying about something or the other, Tytos found him useful, to an extent.
"Speak then, the battlefront first."
"Our troops line the eastern and western borders, they will enter within a week, the west moves to oppose us, the east deliberates whether to fight us at the border or not. Rumors from the north say many things, that it is having a civil war of succession, that one of the heirs amassed an army of mercenaries to kill his brother, the tales go on and on." Tytos Korlath would've smiled, if he ever did.
"And of the other news?"
"House Styrke sent us a messenger, shortly before it was destroyed completely. The lord, Armand Styrke, is thought to be dead, the heir is missing. The messengers tell us that a great rage dragon perpetrated this act. They call him Deathbringer. The messenger says that this Deathbringer has five children that threaten all of Emiria." Tytos mulled it over in his head for a while. He new what a ferocity dragons could be, especially rage dragons, and for one to destroy an entire House? The thought worried him, slightly.
"We cannot be weakened on the inside while we fight a war outside. Do we have any idea where Armand's heir fled to?" The advisor looked sheepish and more nervous than ever.
"We don't, Your Grace, but an attack recently took place up just slightly beyond the western border, at House Solus. They say a green version of this Deathbringer attacked there, his most renowned child." The king thought over this statement, and then looked back over his land.
"Bring me my son." He said. The advisor scurried off and didn't return for half and hour. When he did, Tytos was sitting in his solar on a couch handmade by the finest carpenters in the south. Drake strode in, his pale face emotionless.
"Son," the king began, "I have an important task for you. More important than a bastard like you deserves." The king made no motion for his son to take a seat. "It appears a dragon has been harassing various places in the south, even destroying House Styrke. Take fifty of my house guard and make haste for House Solus at once-my advisor will give you a map-and once you reach it, ask for a girl that was heir to the destroyed House Styrke. She may have valuable information about this dragon." Drake nodded and began to leave when his father broke in sharply.
"Did I dismiss you? No? I didn't think so. If you do well on this task and find the girl, I may even let you keep her." Tytos sneered and then waved his son and his advisor out of the room. The king sat back and contemplated the realm that would soon be his.
Or so he believed.
The Eastern ReachesEdit
The people of the east were not concerned with talk from the outside brought in by the traders and merchants.
They were not concerned with the talk of war. They were not concerned with the speak of dragons from the south, wars in the north, pleas from the west, or anything of the like.
The people of the east were very much a traditional people, living by the philosophy of "If it doesn't affect me directly, why should I care?" All the eastern lords knew and lived by this philosophy as much as the commoners did. They could not call on honor as other lords could, they could not give speeches of defending one's home from southern terrors. The lords didn't even care themselves. The only reason the east had a monarch at all was to instill some sense of order into the turmoil of the east.
For that reason, there were no councils held by the queen, no battle strategies laid out, no action even really taken. The rich merchant princes had their fleets (which technically belonged to the queen) on alert. War was bad for business, but their men were hardy and would fight for the greater good of the east, if they were paid to do so. Some people in the east worried, but were far overruled by the people who said "what will happen will happen."
The queen herself followed that line of thinking. She heard word of the southern monarch marching on her borders, was mildly concerned and then said "what will happen will happen." Word of a dragon reached her ears, a dragon that devoured villages whole. That phased her none. She repeated her phrase, "what will happen will happen." Many other items of immediate concern were brought to her attention, these were brushed off just the same way.
Some might have interpreted this line of thinking as carelessness, but the east had always followed their faith and prophecies closely. They believed that only at the right time, would the gods favor them. The impression of a queen in the palace may have given the eastern people some courage to live normally in these times of uncertainty.
But Alannys Katyuin was always a woman of the east, one as wild and uncontrollable as the sandstorms of the east itself. The queen in Storm's Eye was a figurehead, the real queen travelled her lands in secrecy, lest she grow to board. Yet she held the same philosophy as the false self in Storm's Eye.
"What will happen will happen."