Prologue: Time of Troubles
At the dawn of the fourth era of man, three cities were constructed in the land of Farava. To the southeast was Onlasar, built into the very rock of the Endii Mountains just a few miles from the vast southern sea of Verinadia. It was the oldest of the three cities and was known as the shield of the East. First inhabited during the Klade wars, it had been converted to defend the eastern lands from the vicious barbarians who ravished the rocky landscape and raided the windy coast.
In the northwest, only a few leagues east from the ruins of the Old Kingdom’s once sprawling capital, was Lanstiro. It was the most fortified of the cities, constructed to stop the monstrous creatures known as Forukks that roamed in the far west from escaping their shadowy realm of Miankkuth. It had been built in celebration of victory over the Klades. The Old Kingdom had been shattered but humanity had survived. Lanstiro’s strong walls and stronger warriors were the mighty sword of Farava’s people.
The final city to be formed was Pastrino. It was built in the centre of Farava and was the most pleasant of the three cities. No threats were able to bypass Onlasar or Lanstiro so its people were peaceful and naïve as to what went off beyond their city’s vast white walls. Dense forests as ancient as the world itself boarded its northern boundaries while the sun parched Amion desert separated it from the far off Onlasar. Steep cliffs that led to the lower steps of the country partitioned Pastrino from the outer confines of Lanstirian lands.
The foul creatures of the west were eventually beaten down, forced to stay in their own twisted domain because of the powerful warriors of Lanstiro. In their overconfidence though, they failed to be prepared when the Forukks amassed once more and laid siege to the battle hardened city. Lanstiro’s contact with the other settlements ceased, causing its sister cities to worry about her fate.
Onlasar sent its finest scouts to investigate but they never returned. Then in the snowy winter, while harsh blizzards ravaged the land and visibility was poor, Pastrino was attacked by the demonic Forukks and warped human savages from the shadowlands. They fought bravely but were no warriors and after two days of battle, few men remained. In what looked to be the last stand, the few surviving defenders fortified the city’s bell tower and made ready for the next horde of invaders.
Before the enemies reached the tower, a lone man in a dark cloak strode up to the defenders and turned to face the horde. He appeared to have no weapons or armour of any kind. The attackers merely laughed and charged forward, serrated swords and axes held high. It was their last worldly action. A blinding sapphire light flooded the blood soaked streets before dying down as fast as it had come. The stranger now held in his hands a large, blazing blue sword with a lance like handle that was embossed with jewels. He charged forwards and slashed. Screams echoed through the walls of the now ruined buildings. A cloud of dust rose around them as azure energy ripped through the Forukk’s ranks like a ravishing wave. When it cleared, the barbarians and Forukks were all dead. A faint red mist lingered in the air.
After a council between the remaining people of Pastrino, representatives from Onlasar and the lone stranger, they came to the decision that the two cities should send their combined armies over to Lanstiro to discover her fate. Should their worst fears be proven true then they would purge the area clean of the Forukks’ taint. Men from all of the outlying villages joined the gathering army. Even the isolated warriors of the desert rallied to the call. The assembled armies marched with all haste to the lost city. What they found deeply shocked them all.
The once lush ground had taken the first steps toward becoming a barren wasteland. All of the trees that had once formed vast forests had been felled. As the army moved onward it encountered no signs of life. Unable to hunt, food became scarce. This remained the same until they crested a high hill that revealed structures on the horizon.
The fortress city was bigger than ever. Its walls were now blackened and spikes lined every visible surface, beaten metal covering the cold stone walls like armour. Newly constructed parapets and turrets formed a web of defences around the original structures.
The Faravian armies marched forward cautiously, confusion and fear the dominant emotions as silence drifted through the ranks on a cold wind. The sky suddenly became dark and for an instant the allied soldiers thought it was rain. Many never thought again. Arrows punctured armour and flesh alike. Blood covered the craggy floor like a red carpet. The largest battle within Farava since the Klade War had begun.
Arrows rained down upon the allied armies as they desperately tried to force open the iron doors. They had expected to face the Forukks in revenge of their sister city, but instead they had been betrayed and were now being slaughtered like ants. No matter how hard the allies tried, the gates stood strong, so it was abandoned for a new approach. Long lengths of rope were attached to oversized iron bolts that were then loaded into siege crossbows. The weapons fired and the arrows plunged into the stone of the city’s walls, leaving a rope line that could be climbed.
The going was tough. Arrows still lashed down and the traitors did all they could to cut through the ropes. The allies’ shields were thick with arrows, the blocks of wood and hide serving as the only protection between life and death in the storm of blade tipped shafts. Hundreds of men were dead or dying. The smell of death was thick in the tainted air.
The first of the allies reached the top of the fortress and were immersed immediately into heavy combat. Bulky leather skinned Forukks wielding jagged weapons with brutal efficiency and heavily armoured men in the red and black livery of Lanstiro battled with the lighter armoured soldiers of the East. Bodies lay unceremoniously on the blood stained ground, arrows punctured through their bright steel armour and leather pads. As more allies scaled the wall, Lanstirian corpses joined the litany of dead.
A bright light filled the area around the fortress like the dawning of a new day. As the light faded, there in the middle of the sea of bodies stood the stranger, his glowing azure sword pulsing with life. He ran towards the wall, his sword becoming large near its hilt as it roared with a sudden violent energy that fired him up into the sky in a blaze of blue flame. As he came down he ripped into the swarm of enemies on the wall. This gave the allies a chance to regroup. His swordsmanship and magical abilities were unmatched and quickly the tide of battle changed.
The stranger led the assault on the gate, killing all who stood in his way. After pacifying the defences, the gatehouse was easily captured and the doors were opened, allowing the full might of the allied armies to rush into the city like a tidal wave. Even the animals of the land threw in their lot against the Forukks. Packs of howling wolves, hulking bears and sabre-toothed tigers swarmed onto the battlefield at the sound of the chaos. Birds of all sizes swooped over the walls, pecking at the defenders and obstructing their view as their foes rushed in to capitalise on the distraction. The outer sections of the city were quickly captured in a trail of death that sapped at the enemy’s strength.
The city itself had also been fortified. Barricades had been erected in the streets while archers fired down at the attackers from boarded up windows. Pits, rockfalls and other such traps had been installed at every turn. The screams of men filled the streets, overriding every other sound.
The battle lasted hours and cost many lives but with the stranger’s aid they managed to push their way through the city’s gruesome defences, capturing the buildings in concentric rings as they forced themselves closer toward the centre. Section after section fell to the flaming sword until the city was under the control of the allied forces. Eventually they managed to push through into the central castle, breaching the keep after a final, brutal assault.
In a bloody one on one battle between the stranger and the enemy leader, the traitorous monarch was killed and the turncoats were all captured and executed. The remaining Forukks managed to retreat back into their own mysterious lands amidst the chaos. None dared to follow them into Miankkuth’s death filled shadow.
The victory felt hollow to the survivors though. The body count was high and the damage to Farava as a whole was unimaginable. The very air within Lanstiro seemed to corrupt the mind, turning friend against friend in the few days that the allies had stayed. To counter this, what could be destroyed was, while the rest of the city was abandoned to the merciless hands of time. The lives lost that day would take many generations to recover.
Despite this victory, Forukk assaults continued against the humans’ defences as the years passed by. Many farms and villages were wiped from the maps in a storm of blood and flame. In an attempt to bring about true peace for the land, the stranger set off alone into Miankkuth to put a stop to the attacks once and for all. The corrosive fog that marked that land had now consumed the ruined fortress of Lanstiro, vastly expanding the monsters’ domain. Forukk sightings ended but never again was the sword-summoning stranger seen by human eyes. All memories of him faded with the many generations that passed peacefully by, as did the memories of the Forukks and of the battle itself.
But history has a way of repeating itself and old enemies never lie still forever. Peace makes men grow weak while hatred lets others grow strong. Dark forces stir unnoticed and the world is on the brink of chaos once again. Only the return of the Sword Summoner can stop the land from sliding into complete desolation. If not, then death awaits all…