Prologue 2

Apprentice Bekus
History Module Assignment 2
28 September 107 AE

An entire generation of Wardens had never seen Loreil, let alone set foot in it, save one. Before them, the last generation of Wardens had never left Loreil, save one.

Apprentice Bekus scratched that out and leaned back in his chair. He was being overly dramatic, though the story as he was reading it certainly lent itself well to drama. He shook his head a touch and realized how disrespectful that sounded and he returned his attention to his notes.

Loreil was a nation of scholars, artisans and traders. Its diplomatic ties with numerous other kingdoms had long kept it safe from the covetous hands of the Asyr Empire. The Empire was the antithesis of Loreil. Where Loreil had fertile fields and prosperous harbors, Asyr was not much more than a few oases in an otherwise barren desert. Loreil prospered in diplomacy, its mutual defense treaties with countless other nations obviated a need for a large standing army while Asyr’s constant need for conquest and slaves made a massive army a requirement for the Empire’s survival.

Long did the Magelords of Asyr desire Loreil but they could not touch it without causing wars with all of Loreil’s allies and even their massive war machine could not deal with attacks on so many fronts. This desire was what led to the innumerable deaths that followed. Unable to attack Loreil for fear of retribution from her allies, the Empire needed to cause Loreil to crumble from within. Combining dark magic and intrigue, the Asyr slaughtered the Wardens of Loreil, a specialized border guard. Some died from the blade, others by a consuming madness, the good clerics, slain by assassins were powerless to protect their kingdom. All within a twenty-mile radius of Warden Keep were killed including the Sovereign and Soverain, all of the magelocked Wardens traveling through the eastern march were overcome. Although much of the nation lived through the attack, only one Warden survived, Ranger Blue.

Not knowing of the fate of the nation, Blue returned to find all he knew dead, including his wife and infant daughters. Filled with sorrow and rage, Blue tracked the dark creature that had been unleashed on his homeland, The Eater of Souls. Years passed as he engaged the creature in battle again and again over miles of terrain. He eventually stalked the beast to Rhydin where the weakened beast and an even weaker Blue entered into their final battle. Blue was severely wounded, mortally, the Eater of Souls thought as it approached him only to die with a final thrust of the last Warden’s sword. The creature was destroyed but Blue’s time had not yet come and he eventually recovered from his wounds.

After the fateful battle, Blue had planned to live his life as best he knew how. Yet fate was not finished with him yet. The Elven Elder, Timon, revealed both his future and his past to him Blue’s arrival as a foundling outside of Warden Keep when he was a child was not mere chance, but it was a way for him to join the Wardens while concealing his lineage. Blue was the son of the First Warden… the sovereign of Loreil. At first he denied his title but it was soon revealed that not all of Loreil had perished as he had believed. Many had fled, others had survived but were all but prisoners of the Asyr Empire.

The land that had once been bountiful and prosperous when autonomous had now become a slave to the crushing burden of helping to keep the Asyr Empire alive. Under the Asyri rule, clerics were killed, politicians assassinated, and what army existed was decimated. Of those who were not killed, some escaped to lands beyond, such as Rhydin proper.

New cities were formed for the outcasts of Loreil, Stargard and Caern Harbor. The Loreilians gathered and prospered in secret, careful that their existence never be reveled to the Asyri. Caern Harbor acted as the trading post for all the resources of Stargard, selling and trading the excess goods produced and bringing in all that would be needed to aid in the liberation of Loreil. It was in this state that Blue found them… planning for a war that would eventually come, but lacking the focus that would carry them through to begin that war and win it. Blue came into his title then, quickly taking stock of the situation he commanded that a new Warden Keep be built to house the group that he would recreate.

This led to the formation of the group most were familiar with in Rhydin… the Order that offered their services as educators, mediators, proctors, and diplomats. Though named the Wardens of Loreil, none save the First Warden Blue… Sovereign Blue, had ever set foot in Loreil but nonetheless they were committed to seeing the land freed.

Wardens lived and died, aged and retired, betrayed and departed without ever having seen this goal met. Though skirmishes, raids, and battles took place, never did the final battle come…. That which would end the occupation of Loreil or once again shatter the Wardens.

Apprentice Bekus paused here, uncertain if he should go into the events that had taken place. The assignment, from what he understood, was to be history of the Wardens, non-inclusive of the immediate events leading up to the finale in the year 32 AE. After a bit of thought, he decided that it would be best to conclude his notes there lest he run the risk sitting here for days in order to transcribe too many events.

Finished with the books he sat back and looked at the stack of parchments he had written. The pile was high and he had needed to request additional sheets from the Librarian. The sun no longer poured through the window but the afternoon light was still pleasant. He left to tell the Librarian he was finished with the materials and ask where he should place them. Told that the Librarian would come to collect them in a few minutes Apprentice Bekus returned to gather up his own materials. He stopped and turned to look at the other Apprentice, “What is it that you’re working on?”

Apprentice Salomé sat back in her chair and set her pen back into the matching writing case that all apprentices carried. Her eyes glanced over at the stack of books that had spread out from where he had been sitting. “I am working on the assignment after yours,” She nodded her head to his research materials, “It is about the events leading up to the final battle between Loreil and the Asyri.”

Curious, he moved around the table to take a look at her work. “Oh? I’ve been waiting to cover that, I am really interested in the battle.”

She gave a small shake of her head “This report wouldn’t cover the final battle itself… only the issues that led up to it.”

He looked slightly crestfallen “I see. I was hoping to learn more about my grandfather’s involvement in the battle… Why don’t they cover the final stages of the conflict? That makes no sense.”

The soft voice of the Librarian answered him, “Because the final battle is covered in a class by itself, Apprentice. Though the time frame is shorter, more happened in those weeks than could be added to the class you are taking. Though we all know how the battle turned out, the battle itself is not important when studying the events that led up to it.” Thinking about the battle that he had witnessed as a child, the Librarian lowered his head and moved to collect the books that Bekus had been working with, his voice even softer as he muttered “…such a terrible cost…” with a small shake of his head.

As the old man walked away Apprentice Salomé looked up at Apprentice Bekus who stood over her, “Your grandfather was a Warden?” She asked, hoping perhaps he could bring to life the histories she had been reading. It was not the same as hearing it first hand, but what had his grandfather told him?

Bekus shook his head slightly, “No, he was not a Warden, he was an aide to Sovereign Blue…”

She cut him off, sitting forward in her seat, “Your grandfather knew Sovereign Blue? What did he tell you of his time with the First Warden?” The woman’s eyes were bright as she leaned intently towards him.

He sighed and drew up a chair near her. “He never told me anything. He died before I was born. My father did not talk much about him.”

Though the light died in her eyes, she could see how much it meant to Bekus to know more about his grandfather. She lifted the sheets she had written and handed the stack to him, “I don’t remember where he is mentioned, but I am certain I came across the name ‘Bekus’ while taking my notes. I had not realized he was a relative of yours. You can look through these if you like.”

With a small smile of thanks, he accepted the sheets from her, sank down in a nearby chair and began to read through her notes, watching her above the edge of the page as she returned to her own work. The words, taken from the journals of the Wardens themselves, drew him back in time to those years leading up to the Final Battle….