The Era of Chaos

Fire in the Air

At a border town north of the Northern Provinces of the Aesir Kingdom…

The cold bites deep into the bones of every man and woman who inhabit these lands. A combination of chilling winds, dangerous beasts, and the occasional Chaos warband made life in a border town miserable; the only reason anyone came here was for the money that the Count offered to mine for dark ferrite, a mineral only found in the depths of the Northern Desolates.

Inside the towns tavern, Karl stood behind a table with a pot of potato soup. Filling up bowls of piping hot soup, he passed them out to each person in the food line, chatting with them as they went. It is a small town, after all–only a few hundred inhabitants–and everybody knew everybody.

”Hey Karl, dya hear out Frospera? Heard they got wiped out completely, ” said a gruff voice from the line.

”Yeah…may Usha watches over us all, ” Karl responded, ”Bless those poor bastards. Didn even know what hit em until half the city was in flames. ”

”Talking about Frospera? I eard from Sagan that the scouts saw them at Nuln Crossing, just four miles from ere, ” another voice chimed in. Karl grunted in acknowledgment, though he didn believe much of it. After all, for the two decades since the Scaleborne Incursion, theyve been at peace beside the occasional beast tide. ”Well, if anythings gonna happen, the scouts will tell the mayor, and hell tell us all to run. ”

As Karl continued serving the meals, he felt a sudden shake in the ground. Then another. Then a stronger quake caused him to spill the ladle of soup he was scooping out onto the floorboards. Everybody stopped what they were doing, from the men sitting at the tables to the barmaid at the mead counter. They listened as the rumbling grew louder…and closer.

”HORSES! ” shouted a man in armor at the door, ”an incursion! ”

”To arms, men! ” barked Sagan, the guard sergeant of the town dressed in dark blue armor. Karl quickly put the lid on the pot of soup and hurried to the backrooms where he took off his apron and donned a light iron chest piece. Grabbing a sword, he rushed out alongside his kitchen mates.

But it was too late. They were already upon them.

Karl watched in horror as a sea of black-armored horsemen stormed down the hill beyond the town walls. The rumble of hooves on dirt shook the snow off the roofs of the house; and though men and women of the town continued to rush out of their buildings and the guards at the gates fired arrow after arrow at the oncoming tidal wave of bodies, there were simply not enough arrows for every enemy.

Crashing through the wooden gates with an unstoppable *BOOM*, the armored horsemen began swarming into the town. The haphazardly put-together defense force was not a match for the horsemen in uniform formations. Karl braced himself for combat as he saw men and women alike being sliced in half in front of him, their blood and organs spilling out to redden the white snow.

The foul stench of corruption carried by every man-in-black further exacerbated the oppressive atmosphere. And he watched the armored figure gallop towards him atop a steed–a monstrosity far larger and more muscular than any mortal horse he has seen–Karl could only roar as he swung his sword at the oncoming figure. The last thing he saw was the searing-red eyes of the Chaos knight, then all was black…

Back at the training yard…

Leonel huffed and puffed as he held the halberd; one hand in the middle of the staff with an underhand grip; one hand at the bottom with an overhand clamp. Theyve been training for an hour now, and all theyve been doing is drilling the different stances of the halberd. Though Leonel had previous training from his father, his cultivation being at the 1st level Spirit Trainee rank meant that his 12-year-old limbs were still fairly susceptible to fatigue.

He turned to glance at Landon, who was panting heavily and was in a similar situation as Leonel. Though, when Landon caught sight of Leonel looking at him, he threw him a sarcastic grin and then looked away. Leonel snorted to himself and continued holding his pose. Many of the trainees had collapsed at least once by now, but Leonel held strong. His past training with his father came in handy for allowing him to barely make it through this workout.

Suddenly, A courier rushed onto the field towards Sir Gideon, stopping barely in front of him. What they said Leonel could not hear, but Gideons look of alarm was enough to discern that whatever the news was, it wasn good. Gideon waved all the instructors over to him.

Hafnir waved for the trainees to take a break as he jogged over to Gideon. Immediately, all the tension from Leonels arms gave way. His arms slacked as all he wanted to do was toss the weapon onto the ground. However, he gently set down the wooden halberd; he didn want a repeat of what happened to a fellow trainees bottom after they dropped their weapon too hard on the ground. Something about treating your weapon like a lover kind of situation, Leonel figured.

Exhausted but happy they got a break, he walked over to Landon with Hal and Ariel, two new friends he met during the workout. At this point, the sun was beaming down rays of fire on them, and sweat seemed to pour down every trainees entire body. Leonel found Landon talking to another person before he noticed Leonel and waved him over.

”What do you think happened? ” asked Landon as soon as Leonel came within range. They formed a small circle partially facing away from the three instructors chatting.

Ariel tiredly said, ”I don like the look on Sir Gideons face. Its for sure not something we should be excited about. ” She wiped her brow and panted deeply. Hal nodded in agreement, ”Whatever it is, it doesn look like its much good for them either. ”

A couple more minutes passed as the instructors spoke in hushed tones and the trainees chatted. Then, the instructors gave each other a nod and headed toward their respective groups.

Hafnir strode back in hurried steps, gesturing for the halberdier trainees to come over. Leonel gave the others each a look and nodded before he walked over with them.

After all the trainees gathered up in a semicircle in front of Hafnir he began talking.

”We are being attacked, ” he started, ”the borders towns have fallen and our scouts are being intercepted. ”

Leonel looked at Hafnir with a shocked expression. So the rumors were true? A Chaos incursion is upon us? He couldn believe it, though Hafnir couldn possibly gain anything from lying to them. Looking around at his friends and fellow trainees, he saw similar amounts of shock on their faces. Only Hal looked with an indiscernible expression.

”Hal, you okay? ” whispered Leonel.

”Mhm…, ” Hal muttered back, ”m…my father was part of the resupply caravan to the border towns. He left for Lovlun only four days ago… ”

”I know its scary to hear, but its the truth. You all must prepare to fight in the coming future, ” Hafnir continued, his eyes scanning the faces of the trainees. When his gaze landed on Leonel, he paused for a second before resuming his sweep, eventually landing on Hal next to him. ”Your father…your father sent us the message. ”

At this point, blaring horns erupted in Leonels mind, the loudness of which muffled the sounds of his surroundings. He began shaking, both from the excitement of the oncoming battle and the nervousness of the very same thing. War is coming to Aesir. I will wield my halberd in battle and strike down the heretics of the Chaos realm.

Leonel looked at Hafnir with a burning fervor in his eyes. The same thing happened to a few of the other trainees, though many were still processing the info.

”Go home. Tell your families to prepare, and make certain you are ready for war, ” he finished, ”class is dismissed. ” After saying that, he turned around and headed back toward Gideon.

”Lets go home I suppose. I will ask my father about the situation, ” Leonel determined, ”we shall meet again during tomorrows training. ”

Collective ”ayes ” came from the members of the newly formed group, and they all dispersed back to their homes. Ariel and Hal waved them goodbye and walked off in separate directions. Leonel and Landon began walking home together as they lived in similar areas, chatting about what they learned and the news that Hafnir just broke to them as they went along.

However, they soon noticed a definite hush in the city as more and more people learned about the coming war. Noticing this, they walked faster home.

At the Coldblight Estate…

As Leonel closed the door behind him, he was greeted by the agitated sight of his mother who rushed towards him in a flurry of strides.

”Leonel, you
e back! ” his mother, Alea Dumas cried out.

Leonel was taken aback, but he understood her distress, ”Im back mother. I was just at training. ” He took a few steps forward and gave his mother a reassuring hug, to which she reciprocated gratefully.

Separating, she said, ”lets get you some lunch and wait for your father to get home. Jev just told me about the news and I was worried sick about both of you. ”

”Yes, mother, ” Leonel complied. He took a seat at the table and began telling his mother about his day.

At sunset…

Edmund Coldblight opened the door to his manor, patting the snow off from his cloak before hanging it up on the coat hanger. He walked to the living room, where Leonel and Alea were waiting for him on the couches.

He sighed and took sat down deeply on a sofa. Taking out a pipe, he lit it and took a whiff. ”So youve heard, ” he stated, ”that war is coming. ”

”Yes, and that its another Chaos incursion. One far larger than the one two decades ago! ” Leonel exclaimed. His excitement only drew a disapproving look from his father, who only shook his head.

”May Usha bless us all. ”

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