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Broken Promise

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In a world where mages are worshipped just as much as they are feared. Emporia is a land divided by blood and war. Mages battle over territories, scarring the land, leaving nothing but a trail of dead bodies. In a village of northern emporia, Eddon is still reeling from the tragic loss of his brother to the war, and having recently recovered from a gripping sickness he painfully tries to get back to his normal life. But when he finds out the dark secret his father has kept, Eddons life is turned upside down as he unknowingly becomes the key to saving the world and ending the Mage wars. He becomes hunted by the most feared mage in all the kingdoms, who is determined on destroying him. Eddon has no choice but to leave all he knows to journey with his companions into the magical world. As Eddon fights to survive, he must prepare to face his destiny and become what he hates. He must turn and face his demons but when that day comes, Eddon will have to be ready.

Fantasy / Romance
Age Rating:

Rising Banners

War drums reverberated through the desolate forest like a beacon of death. Each Strike of the drum was a reminder that life could not exist without chaos. Eddon sat trying to ignore the petrifying sound, his leg shook involuntarily knocking at the worn-out table in the center of the small living area. The orange tongues of the fire licked at the firewood as it crackled in the blackened hearth, keeping out the bitter cold. Eddon was sure he could see the water in his pitcher vibrate to the drums’ violent rhythm as he poured some into his parents’ cup, some of the water splashed out being soaked into the grey cloth that covered the table.

“Don’t worry son, they are just passing through” His father said reassuringly as he reached over to steady his hand.

His father’s smile provided a sense of safety from the terror that crossed these lands. Eddon returned to poking at his vegetable stew, it had been a long while since he had tasted anything different, even though his belly grumbled for food he couldn’t bring himself to take another spoonful. From the corner of his eye, he could see his mother looking at him worriedly, he could always tell she was troubled by the way she scratched at her long brunette hair.

“Eddon, it will be a good idea for you to follow your father to the village gathering today,” she said.

“That’s a good idea, Melly. What do you say?” his father added as they both waited for his response. He hated when they did this, making him feel like a child still nursing in need of more special treatment. Soon he would be a man and expected to do important village duties, not that he looked forward to the latter part, he always found sitting around a table hearing people’s complaints boring. However, this time getting a bit of fresh air away from the war drums made him jump at the opportunity.

“I’ll get my boots on” he replied as he quickly rushed out of the room to find his shoes.

By the time he put his leather boots on his father was waiting for him at the door. Eddon grabbed his thick woolen cloak from a hook. Soon they began walking towards the village center, the snow crunched underfoot as they stepped. Flakes of brilliant white snow lazily drifted down onto them, the sun stood like a dim flame in the cloudy sky, its warmth had abandoned these lands to nothing but frigid coldness. Even with the cloak, his father’s muscular build could still be seen, his brown hair was tied into a knot showing a strong jawline. Eddon’s similarities to his father ended at the same brown hair, he was a scrawny youth with long limbs that made him tower over most of the villagers.

“Mother worries about me too much”

“Can you blame her?” his father replied

“You can’t shelter me forever, I need to find my way without having you both looking over my shoulder.”

“Eddon. You didn’t see yourself when you were gripped by the sickness. You were as hot as burning coal, we thought we were going to lose you. With your brother gone we can’t lose you as we-” His father choked as he stifled his emotion.

Eddon immediately regretted what he had said, he had an annoying knack for speaking without thinking. Ever since his brother Ebrin had died in the Mage Wars a piece of them had all been shattered, Eddon had been left feeling empty. That emptiness had quickly been filled with hatred towards all mages, they used them like tools to fight their tyrannical wars. His brother had worshiped the mages like most. Eddon could still remember the day when he had woken up to hear his older brother had abandoned them to join the raising banners, believing this war was about protecting Emporia. It still felt like yesterday that he would be getting up to mischief with Ebrin.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean….I won’t leave you and mother. I promise.”

His father gave him a warm smile as he reached over ruffling his hair, Eddon began to complain but ended up just smiling. It was evident that they were nearing the village center as the number of leafless trees that resembled twisted veins feeding the sky began to decrease, replaced by small homes. The fresh blanket of snow turned into a crushed muddied mess, villagers did their best to scoop the snow to form connecting paths. Children ran around playfully as they tossed snow at each other causing yelps of joy. The sound of the war drums had passed, but Eddon could see many of the elders’ forced smiles, more villagers were starting to leave their homes to do their daily work as best they could in the snow, many stopped to wave their greetings as they passed.

“Eddon! Eddon! Come join us” a young boy called Rillu exclaimed as he ran up to him.

“Maybe later”

“You always say that,” Rilu complained.

“Okay. How about this, tomorrow we will have a large snow battle for the day”

“You promise?”

“I promise”

Rilu jumped up gleefully as he ran off to join his friends, Eddon could hear one of the elders cry out after getting hit in the face with a handful of snow. Both he and his father couldn’t help but laugh as the children scrambled away like mice caught by a cook. The village homes were made sturdy but nothing compared to the feasting hall. It had a well-thatched roof that sat upon a thick timber frame, it was built larger than any of the surrounding homes with a large wooden door. As they neared they could hear shouting coming from inside, they shook off the snow from their cloaks as they stepped into the spacious hall. A dozen villagers sat at a long table arguing, a greying old man was the only one quiet with a hand on his forehead in frustration.

“Ahh at last. Marak, tell these fools that they have no place building on my land”

“You are the only fool in this room, Smare” a woman responded.

Marak gave Eddon a tired look, he knew it was going to be a long day for his father already. Most of the villagers saw his father as a person of reason and so treated his opinion with high regard. However, when everyone wants you to agree with them it could get very tedious.

“Go stand by Aretu over there son,” Marak said as he strolled to the table, Eddon nodded, walking over to his friend who stood leaning against the wooden wall. Aretu was what most would call handsome, with jet black hair and a finely groomed beard. Eddon leaned on the wall next to him as he looked at his father taking a seat, trying his best to calm them all down to no avail.

“They’re going at it more than usual today” Eddon whispered.

“The army passing by has everyone more on edge, Margret didn’t even leave her home today and she hasn’t missed a village gathering since she gained a seat at the table,” Aretu replied.

“So I haven’t missed much then”

“Other than Smare saying Janna’s late husband went to an early grave to get away from her insufferable nagging. Then yes, you haven’t missed much. How have you been, you know since…”

“You don’t start that as well, I already have my parents asking me that constantly. I don’t need my friend to be doing the same.”

The old man slammed his fist onto the table in annoyance, which silenced them all. Even though he looked like a frail man, the villagers knew not to rub Kravas the wrong way. Some of the cups had tipped over, water spilled over the table being soaked in the rough-grained floorboards. All eyes were now looking at him.

“I didn’t call this meeting to have you squabbling like children” Kravas croaked. “If you are not aware already things are changing, and this village does not center around you two”

Smare sat back with a distasteful grunt, his hooked nose, and droopy lips made him permanently look in a state of anger. But it seemed Kravas words had settled him and Janna as they both kept quiet.

“Thank you Marak for coming on such short notice. It’s good to see your boy is back in good strength” all heads swiveled to look at Eddon, he looked down in embarrassment he was never the one for attention, that had always been Aretu talent.

“And I wish we could celebrate. But I fear the news I received would make that unlikely to happen.”

“Get on with it then Kravas,” Smare said apprehensively. In return, the outburst got him a cold stare that made him sit even further back, any further and he would topple over.

“I received a message from the Elsorium, they will be sending recruiters in the coming weeks to have men of fighting age join the war effort against Valsalh.”

The villagers gasped as they cried out in defiance, Eddon could feel his leg begin to shake again. He had never been brave like his brother or strong like Aretu, he doubted he would even survive a day in the frontlines not with all the stories he had heard of mages casting lighting from the sky like Gods.

“First they take our crops so that we barely have enough to feed our own this winter, now they want to take our boys to fight their war. Over our dead bodies!” Smare shouted.

“I agree. Enough is enough, we should-” Janna said.

“We should what, Fight them? Plead with them? What can we possibly do to stop them from ripping our children from their homes.” a man by the name of Tevin exclaimed, he had low-cut hair, his tunic hanged loosely on his thin body.

“Cursed mages” Smare sneered.

“Careful how you talk. You are among friends but if those words were to fall on the wrong ears, you will be meeting a headsman’s chopping block.”

“You worry about yourself, Marak. Just because you were too spineless to save your other boy doesn’t mean we will stand and watch like you.”

Marak flinched at the remark but quickly regained composure, Aretu grabbed Eddon’s wrist before he could do anything rash. He gave him a look that told him this wasn’t the time to fight, Eddon knew he was right not that he was much of a threat to Smare who was double his size. He would just end up back in bed covered in bruises.

“Listen, I know full well how it feels to lose a child to this war more than anybody. I also know that acting like a rebellion is a quick way to have this village turned into ashes.”

“We are farmers, not soldiers,” Tevin added.

“To the Elsorium if you can swing a scythe, then you can thrust a spear.”

The room went quiet for a long moment as the news dawned on them, even though the large fireplace was full of burning logs the room felt like it had just become chillier. Many of them hanged their heads in defeat as they knew that Marak’s words were true, they had no choice in the matter, the same way a ship has no choice in the direction of the wind, it must adapt to find its destination.

“Marak is right, there’s nothing we can do now. We still have a week yet till they arrive, until then we can only hope by Amiros fortune we come up with something. Hold your children close tonight, as the mage war will soon be knocking on the very door of our village.”

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