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Library: Kingdom gone

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Author: Vetisteleva
Date:Jul 10 2002

The first rays of morning sun are again penetrating the hours long darkness
that covered these lands. Like every other night and day but this day is
somewhat different.

The rays reflect from metal surfaces all over one quiet hill. Reflections can
be seen even from a long distance, but only when the ruins of an ancient
watchtower, slowly falling apart, are not blocking the view. What cannot be
seen from the distance is all the fallen warriors and the pools of blood
decorating the hill. In the middle of all this is a man sitting. His
breastplate torn apart, his golden crown turned red of blood. He has cuts and
bruises all around his body. His long black hair is wet and dirty of blood and
his eyes have an empty look. He sits on a rock, a battle axe next to him on
the ground and a large two-handed sword between his legs. 

The man sits there doing nothing. He has no understanding of what has happened
around him. It is already a late morning when he finally stands up, takes a
sword in one hand and the battle axe in other. Spreading his arms wide he
shouts. Shouts until his throat feels numb. Shouts because he came back to his
senses and remembers everything that happened.

He, the king, was hunting with his friends and some trustworthy members of the
loyal guard when they were attacked. Although there should have been regular
patrols scouting the area he had not received any warning. This was strange,
not because of the famous skills of his scouts and rangers, but because they
were attacked by two large groups of men blocking the road they were passing.
Such a large number of men shouldn't have gone unnoticed through his lands.

The king ordered his men to follow and they all rode as fast as they and their
horses could. They got out of woods just in time to see a third group
approaching. They had no other choice but to go to the direction of this old
watchtower. And to there they got and there they defended themselves as best
they could. Protecting the king was in everyone's mind the priority number
one. Self-sacrificingly they fought and many a blow meant for the king were
stopped by his friend or a guard throwing himself in the between.

Still the king is breathing. They fought valiantly and he was also a good
fighter. A warrior king, feared and respected at the same time. There was not
a single person alive on the hill besides the king, who had now sobered from
his nightmares and planning what to do next. It is obvious that there is a
conspirator among his scouts. Someone in a high enough position to alter the
patrolling routes.

It was now for the first time that the king realised what was happening in the
distance. There was lots of smoke rising from different directions around him.
Smoke rising from where there should be his cities and villages. Now he
smelled it too. Human flesh, lots of it, burning around him. So, he realised,
it was not just an attempt to kill him but a full-scale invasion or attack.
But who would dare to attack him? There shouldn't have been, according to his
spies, a strong enough faction to resist his reign. Obviously there was and he
had been misinformed.

He called for his horse, who came running up the hill. He also took his
weapons, too heavy for a normal man to use in one hand but the king wasn't
just a man. Throwing himself on his horse and riding towards the capital as
fast as possible he didn't see a single sign of life on his way. No animal nor
human. Strange thing was that there were no corpses either and the only sounds
came from him and his horse.

When he had already got used to the silence he suddenly saw an old man
standing on the middle of the road. He had a long silvery beard and his white
robes and blue cloak were quite dirty and tattered. He was leaning to an
ordinary looking walking-staff and when the king saw him he raised his view
from the ground to the face of the king, who slowed down and stopped near the
old man. Before he had any time to ask anything about what had happened the
old man started to speak: "Greetings my king. I am here to save your life. If
you continue your way to the capital you will surely be dead. Well, it is a
small miracle that you are still alive but we are living enchanted times right
now."

"Who are you," asked the king who had expected to die soon in a fight till
bitter death with the invaders. "My name is Fogfield. I represent the Wizards
of Greythorn. We have a lot to discuss but may I now advice you to come with
me. If you really want to save what is possible you do as I say." Normally the
king would have not been so easily persuaded, but there was something in the
way the old man spoke and stood in front of him.

They walked into the forest and after some minutes they came to an opening,
where only some grass was growing. In the middle of the opening was laying a
huge silver dragon. It's scales glimmering in the sunlight. "This is my
companion and my dearest friend", said Fogfield. "Now we must haste, please
leave your weapons here since you won't be needing them where we are going." 

They both climbed onto the back of the dragon. When they were safely sitting
there the dragon rose to his back feet and jumped in the air opening its wings
and speeding up to the heights. "We will fly over the capital so you can see
what has happened and it will save me the trouble of telling you. You also
cannot deny what your eyes are saying to you," spoke Fogfield.

The walls surrounding the capital were mostly collapsed. There were no sign of
fighting anymore. In the marketplace were all his people chained, bleeding,
crying, dying. In front of them stood a huge bonfire fed by the corpses of
those who had already died. He also saw now who had attacked him. Apparently
his spies had been truthful since the attackers were not human. There were
demons as large as a two-story house shouting commands and whipping the
humans. Their eyes were full of hellfire and they carried flaming weapons. In
their feet ran a horde of damned souls who now had to serve as their warriors
and servants.

"What are them?" asked the king. "Who sent those misshapen creatures to
torment my people?" The king was full of rage and was almost going to jump
down to die with his people. "Your questions will be answered in our
stronghold. We have to hurry since there is an important gathering. I can only
say that this is just a beginning. The whole world has to unite against these
foul creatures breeding in the pits of underworld. The reason I came for you
is that you have an important role to play. As a king you could have done some
things better but as a warrior there is no match for your skills. In the
coming great war we would like you to command our armies. But rest now for we
have a long flight ahead of us."

In the king's life everything had changed in a day. From a king to an outlaw
and now he was about to become a general. His head was full of thoughts, full
of sorrow and full of emptiness and he could not sleep for many an hour.
Finally, when they were in vast clouds he dozed off and woke when they arrived
at the stronghold of Greythorn. 

They were escorted to the council room where an intense debate was already
going on. There were dwarves, elves and humans from different guilds and
factions. Actually no one even bothered to look at them until the head wizard
shouted "Silence! May I introduce you the king of Farior. He has come here,
summoned by me and fetched by one of my colleagues. Would you, dear king, tell
us what happened in your lands." The king told them about everything that had
happened after their "normal" hunting trip, about the battle, about his fallen
comrades and about the ruined cities and most importantly, about the hordes of
demonic fiends walking on earth. Especially the last part seemed to shake his
listeners.

After a moment of silence the head wizard spoke again: "Indeed we are now
living hard times. Old prophecies have foretold this moment but we didn't
expect it to happen in our lifetimes. Although we have made some preparations
we are far from ready to challenge the forces of the very evil itself. I know
what we must do to prevent the hell on earth. There is no other option but to
travel to the realm's highest mountain, Lavador, and go to the ancient temple,
where the gods still can hear us. We need help of all the Creators to fight
this threat."

"I know it is my duty to go to that mountain. I will take a few trusted
companions with me and the command of this fortress I give to our king here.
For if we fail our mission or the gods refuse to help us, this place is the
only thing standing between light and darkness. We have to leave you tonight.
Fogfield will instruct the king and stays here to be his advisor but also he
will represent me when I am gone."

The discussion continued in the hall though the shadows were beginning to
deepen. They were also treated some food and drinks but no one couldn't eat
much under these circumstances. Fogfield told the king about all the defence
mechanisms of the stronghold. He also told him about the specialities of
dwarves and elves and how it would be wise to use them in the battle. For
everyone knew that if the stronghold falls, then there is nothing to protect
the rest of the world. So they prepared to the upcoming great battle.
Meanwhile the head wizard had left with his party riding golden dragons
towards the centre of the world, where Lavador stood.

Days went past quietly. More people arrived at the fortress every day and
besides the military issues, the king had to ponder how there would be enough
food for everyone. Especially if they will be under siege there is always the
possibility of starving. These thoughts always made shivers go down his spine.
Fortunately the stronghold was full of experienced warriors and the location
was also in their side. He had learnt to appreciate the aid of Fogfield and
others who knew the fortress better. Besides the food issue he was mostly
troubled by the lack of information about the head wizard's journey and the
fact that they had no idea what kind of forces the demons have in their
disposal.

Everything was running smoothly until one night he was wakened by the sound of
a big bell, which is in the highest tower of the fortress. Quickly he put on
his armour, took his new weapons, which still were a large two-handed sword
and a battle axe, and ran on the walls. The whole fortress was surrounded by a
sea of flame. Or that is what it looked like because almost every attacker had
a torch and there were thousands of them. In the back of the oncoming army
were the demons with their burning eyes and pitch black whips. Behind them
stood four dark figures on horses. The king could only see them faintly but
knew that these were the messengers of death.

Then it began. Wave after wave of enemies threw themselves to the walls. The
air was thick of flying arrows and soon it was almost impossible to look what
was happening because you had to keep your shield up all the time. This
disturbed the defenders very much and the demons took an advantage of that and
nearly managed to come through the main gate of the fortress. Fortunately some
dwarf engineers managed to launch a trap they had planned and tons of rocks
fell over the fiends, blocking that passage to the fortress.

When the demons found the main entrance blocked they pushed their army forward
and sent the ones with ladders and attack towers to the front line. Men fought
bravely against the legions of hell and managed to keep the enemy out of the
inner yard. This is how the battle continued for hours. Men were already very
tired and only the strong performance of the king kept their moral high. They
also knew that fleeing was not an option. Not in this battle. The defenders
also had a clear advantage because of the high walls that were occupied all
the time.

The leaders of hell realised this also. They chanted a powerful blast that
they knew to took much of their powers. A shining ball of pure energy leapt
from them and hit the wall few steps from the blocked passage. The following
explosion was so powerful that many of the boulders fell apart with many
metres of the wall and this is how the damned pushed themselves to the yard.
Men, elves and dwarves had no other choice but to retreat deeper into the
fortress. They knew that they couldn't escape from there but they could at
least keep the demons busy for a while, giving the head wizard more time,
since the tunnels and passages inside the fortress were many.

More hours passed and almost every defender was dead. Bodies of warriors and
wizards were in their eternal sleep on the floor. There was only one place of
resistance left. The passage to the highest tower was difficult and steep.
There was Fogfield, the king and a few survivors. They had managed to keep
their position because the enemy could only send two at a time to fight them.
The situation was still desperate. Fogfield couldn't cast fire on the
attackers because he had spent the last of his powers to protect the tower
from energy blasts outside. The king was also tired and they all had cuts and
they were bleeding more or less. Then suddenly after the two enemy warriors
there was no more of them coming. They all listened what was happening but
there was no sound to be heard. After they had even regained some hope there
was a clanking of chains coming from the passage. Then they heard heavy
footsteps and breathing. A red glow started to fill the passage and the air
started to feel hotter. Then they saw a black head of a whip appearing into
the passage. Slowly they saw more and more of the whip but never they saw the
hand holding it.

A bright flash penetrated the red glow in the tunnel and they had to cover
their eyes for not being blinded by it. When the king was able to look again
he saw the whip still on the floor and there was no sign of the demonic being.
The air was also different. If it weren't for the recent events he would have
thought of roses. This all was very confusing but he wanted to hope for the
best. There was not much to do but hope. He ordered the men to guard the
passage and ran up the stairs to the bell. There from a window he saw to the
yard. It was full of pure white horsemen and pure white knights with wings.
There was no sign of the evil that had haunted them. Then he looked at the
horizon and the first rays of morning sun hit his eyes. He sat down and
smiled.


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