The Era of Chaos
End of Peace
Hossendorf City, Colblight County, 1082 AE (After Emperor)
”Leo, get over here now or we
e gonna be late for morning training! ” a distant figure shouted. The sounds of rustling feet, clambering arms, and panicked yelps gave life to the cold morning. Leo scurried to his feet from his bed, kicking off his sheets and hurriedly putting on his training clothes.
Training is mandatory for every child of the Northern Provinces. After all, the bandits and the occasion Chaos hordes don discriminate between their targets, brutalizing all that came in their path. Even Leonel, as the son of Count Coldblight, was mandated to be always prepared for battle. To set an example for the people, as his father said. Leonel could only grudgingly obey, though his hot-blooded youthfulness didn stop him from getting excited at the idea of wielding a mighty weapon and slaying enemies, like the fairy tales he used to hear.
His father was not in the manor, his own morning meetings occupying him daily. The council of elders frantically called for his presence apparently, though Leonel didn know much beyond what his father told him the night before about an urgent request from the border towns in the north.
His mother resided on the other side of the manor from Leonel, sharing a room with his father of course. Though today, she was nowhere to be seen. Grabbing a piece of bread from the kitchen and taking a bite, Leonel rushed about the house.
”Im coming! ” Leo shouted back, ”Ill be out soon. ” Putting on his final piece of clothing and donning his bear-fur coat for the walk, he bolted out of his room and into the courtyard where he found his best friend, Landon waiting for him, feet tapping impatiently on the ground.
”You do know that if we
e late, well be put on scat duty for the day, right? ” Landon said, exasperated, ”even if you
e the Counts heir, you know your father does not care if the instructors subject you to punishment for breaking rules. ” Leonel snorted, ”Alright, I know I know. Well get there on time, don worry about it. ” With that being said though, Leonel sped up his pace. Landon followed suit.
”Anyways, ” Landon began, ” Ive been hearing rumors that some dark forces have been amassing in the north. Stories of black armored knights roaming the night and dreadful cries of monsters, things like that. Though Im not sure if those talks are to be trusted. ”
”Beware the rumors. You never know which fearmonger or dissenter is trying to cause public unrest for their own gain. At least, thats what father tells me, anyhow, ” Leonel nodded at the grocery lady as they passed her, who quickly nodded back in respect. ”Lets speed up. ”
”Its true that not every tittle-tattle or gossip on the street can be trusted, but don you think that perhaps so many voices echoing the same idea might suggest that the claim is a little more than simply hearsay? ” Landon wiped off the ice on his face, trudging through the last few meters of snow to reach the training yard with Leonel.
e right, ” Leonel grimaced, ”but lets survive morning training before we talk about the future, shall we? ”
Landon groaned and could only nod in affirmation. They both stepped into the field, prepared for another day of grueling workouts.
— — — — — — — — — — — — —
Since he began training at age 11, Leonel has been subjected to copious amounts of physical exercise. For almost every boy in the territory including Leonel, this was their life for two years. Afterward, weapons training only began at age 14 (for commoners without a surplus of nutritious food) when a decent foundation was built. For two hours every day, five days a week of his last year, Leonel had undergone a strict training regimen that has thankfully created a solid frame for his body. Though still a child, Leonel can now begin training with weapons as he at least has the strength to wield the trainers.
”TEN LINES, TEN EACH, EXECUTE! ”A roar came from the field. Hearing that voice, Leonel and Landon rushed hastily toward their positions. Finding their spots, they faced forwards, bodies taut at attention and hoping that they do not catch the eye of their slave driver of an instructor. Leonels brow twitched nervously, a droplet of sweat edging its way down his face.
Sir Gideon Blackheart, former commander of the Coldblight Legion, is a steel-hearted devil that pushed the trainees to their limits which each workout. His grizzled face displayed no signs of the commonly seen frailness of age; only sheer might shone through the bulging muscles hidden beneath his black army coat.
It is said that when the Chaos hordes came two decades ago, a horrid beast of monstrous size came hurling upon the walls of Whitepeak Pass. The defenders of Whitepeak Pass were stuck defending desperately against the unrelenting tides of the Northmen, their backs to the wall with no leeway for failure as behind them lead into the heartlands of the Aesir Kingdom. As the beast rampaged on the walls, killing soldiers and demolishing battlements, Sir Gideon dashed out of the blue and onto the wall. And with a heaving blow, he struck down the beast. Word is that not only did the beast get bisected into already two cauterized pieces, but so did the dozens of Northmen behind it.
Leonels blood boils with wonder and desire whenever he sees him–to become a one-man army like Sir Gideon that stood strong, defending against seemingly insurmountable odds.
”Today you will all begin your weapons training, ” Gideon stated loudly, snapping Leonel out of his reverie, ”You have a choice to choose the weapon that suits you best. The sword and shield, the halberd, or the bow. These weapons are the fortes of Coldblight County; the pride of Count Coldblights forces. ”
”Each weapon has its specialties. Each with different roles in the army. However, it is ultimately up to you to wield it, as a master of their weapon can play any role he so desires. ”
”The sword and shield. The standard, infantry-grade weapon. Most common, yet most versatile. The undaunting bulwark of the army. ”
”The halberd. When the Northmen invade in their brutish armor atop their iron-clad steeds, the empires halberdiers are the key to stopping their advance. To penetrate their armor. To destroy the enemy. ”
”The bow. The swift and agile, in dextrous hands, this weapon is a surgical tool. With precision, accuracy, and trust, the greatest archer can kill the enemy before they even see them. ”
”Take your pick,
” he finished,
”and find your respective instructors once you
e finished. ” Gideon waved to three other people who stepped forwards, saluting him as they did.
”Sir Gundnissen shall instruct you in the sword and shield. Sir Hafnir will teach the halberdiers. Lady Cassandra will be your archery instructor. Alright, chop chop! ”
Murmurs immediately began amongst the trainees. As aspiring warriors, these kids came from all different backgrounds and gathered in this camp due to their physical excellence. However, as gifted as they might be physically, they are still excitable kids. Finally seeing the chance to learn how to wield their weapon of choice propagated that sense of fervor.
”Psst, Leo. What
e you gonna choose? ” Landon walked over to Leonel who was inspecting the weapons from his position. ”Im thinking of the halberd. ”
”Of course, Im choosing the halberd, ” answered Leonel determinedly, ”my father has been drilling me in the halberd for the last year since I began training here. And Ive already undergone a basic training regimen before coming here as well. ” Thinking back to it, Leonel shuddered, hoping to push those torturous thoughts behind him. Ah, well. The halberds what my familys known for anyhow; itll be much easier to get advice on how to use it from father.
A short while later and after some scrambling, the trainees all managed to get their hands on a wooden weapon and grouped up with their respective instructors. Leonel went with Landon over to Sir Hafnir, the halberd instructor, along with around 20 other kids.
The majority of trainees preferred the sword given its relative ease of use compared to the halberd or bow. To top it off, the shield provided a sense of security that the kids felt they needed, especially on a potential battlefield. Very few chose the bow willingly, though a handful of trainees did settle on it eventually after feeling that they didn want to fight at the frontline. The more hot-blooded the kid, the more they leaned towards the weapons they felt they could ”get into the thick of it ” and become the heroes in the fantastical tales.
Leonel believes that the halberd is strong and powerful. Thats why hes determined in his choice and his familys choice on that matter. As his 14-year-old mind stands, being able to swing away and overpower the enemy sounds great to him.
For their training, they are using wooden halberds instead of the real thing. Else, its likely that the kids accidentally wound themselves before ever stepping foot onto a real battlefield.
Sir Hafnir looked ponderously at the group of kids staring eagerly back at him, Leonel among them.
”I am Sir Hafnir Urson, ” Hafnir began, ”and I will be your instructor for the next two years. I will teach you the basics of the halberd. How to stab, how to sweep, how to guard, how to hook, and most of all, how to kill. ” He paused, waiting for reactions. The kids continued to look on eagerly, causing Hafnir to snort lightly and sigh.
Hafnir stretched out his arm, stamping the halberd he was holding into the ground in front of him.
”This is the halberd. It has four basic parts: the forward part, the front, the back, and the bottom. The forward part, the blade, consists of three essential components, ” Hafnir began explaining, ”the hook, the point, and the blade. Each part is best in different situations, though every part can be used to kill, of course. ”
”The front part of the staff is meant for controlling, for fighting the opponents weapon. ”
”The back part is meant for defense–to guard yourself first before striking the enemy. ”
”The bottom is meant for…. ”
In the center of the city, as Hafnir continued his lesson, a tense meeting is taking place, in which the entire countys higher officials are gathered.
— — — — — — — — — — — — —
”So, how should we go about this? ” inquired Count Edmund Coldblight, the reigning lord of Coldblight County, ”the reports from the border colonies state that they have spotted signs of another Chaos invasion, the force of which matching, or perhaps even exceeding, the one from two centuries ago. ”
In the Hossendorf city hall, the nobles of surrounding territories of the Aesir Kingdom gathered to discuss the report. While the building was built to tough out heavy storms and brutal weather, its function gave way to form, and a beautifully sculpted city hall was created with elegant archways and reinforced stone walls.
”My lord, don believe those alarmists. Their distance from the heartlands obscures them from the might of the kingdom. From my estimations, this invasion should not even be as strong as the Scaleborne Incursion of two decades ago! ” An old noble interjected.
As a long-standing member of the Coldblight court and the stalwart defender of Whitepeak Pass, Baron Geoffrey Elrod perceived the report as from people whod never seen a true threat before. His presence as one of the only 4th-rank Spirit Guards within the territory further solidifies his standing.
However, he added, ”though, if they were right, we will need to prepare for a siege at Whitepeak Pass, ” trying to give himself and the plans some leeway.
”Exactly. But, its difficult to judge the legitimacy of this report, ” another official chimed in, ”who sent the message? ”
”A messenger from Frospera, the border colony up North. Its a mining town, but its an integral part of our territory and takes orders from me directly, ” answered Edmund, ”they would not lie. ”
”Hmm, if thats the case the– ”
*BANG* The door of the council room burst open.
”My Lord! ”
A tired courier stood at the door gasping for air. He quickly collected himself and presented his message to the court. ”My Lords, I have come with a message from Frospera, ” he pantingly continued, closing the door behind him.
”Continue, ” ordered Count Edmund.
”Frospera…Frospera has fallen. ”
The room was stunned into silence. They were just talking about the issue of fallacy and potential threats. Little did they know that danger had already struck before they had a chance to react.
”Wha-, ” Baron Elrod was stunned, ”are you sure? ”
”Yes, *huff* *huff*, the message came directly from the Frospera messenger, ” answered the court courier.
Yet another stunned silence ensued. The lords and officials muttered and looked around for answers. Small discussions broke out between officials and lords began asking their subordinates to prepare their own countermeasures. Count Edmund watched as the court devolved into a rabble. This can not go on, he thought. However before he was able to regain order in the room again, he was interrupted by another loud *BANG* at the door.
”MY LORDS! ” another courier burst in frantically, ”Weve just received word that the border towns of Everest, Proteus, and Lovlun have all fallen, their inhabitants massacred and their homes burned to the ground! ”
The officials were stunned yet again, but this time the count was quick to respond. ”Prepare the troops immediately! ” Count Edmund ordered, standing up and slamming his hands forcefully onto his desk, ”enact wartime rationing and policies. The filthy armies of the North will step no further into Aesir lands! ”
”Yes my lord! ” echoed the voices of the officials.
As Coldblight County began frantically preparing for war, the forces of Chaos in the North stay one step ahead. With a fully amassed army of darkness at the doorsteps of the kingdom, they prepare themselves to begin the invasion. The age of darkness is nigh, the Era of Chaos is upon us. Mortals cower while the Sages fight back. Yet among those mighty, are also those who are cowardly and spineless. To gather more power, they will do anything to achieve it, even it if means turning to the Chaos Gods…
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