Its an introduction for a story I was going to write for Nanowrimo, but never wrote. Either way, the story-verse is actually pretty detailed (I have some pretty crazy maps I drew, and notebooks of info). I just never wrote the story because it was too damn hard to write, and probably too long. I think a couple chapters may exist on my hard drive somewhere.
Story has some strange parallels to other fantasy books, though I'm pretty sure the only one I read at that point was LOTR.
And here it is. Keep in mind its super old, so my grammar and other things might be a bit funky. It's also fairly long (around 6K words, yay!)
The Civil War of Valana
The Return of the King
It is sunset. A man stands, looking out of an arched window over a vast city. He is a tall man of noble face and build, though now he is drawn and haggard from great weariness and sorrow, even greater than those expected of his many years. This is Zeshara, twenty-sixth Regent of Valana.
For many years he ruled wisely and well and the Kingdom of Valana prospered: the lands were at peace, and men lived to die in their homes, surrounded by their families and loved ones. During this era of plenty, the Emperor returned. It was not the last Emperor, for the Regency had lasted for well-nigh four hundred years, but it was a man of royal blood. The Regent scratched at the rough stubble on his cheek, recalling the fateful day.
“A dusty traveler appeared at the gates of the Redemption Palace. At his touch, they opened—those mighty gates that had suffered no man to pass since Cathaz last-Emperor closed them before he rode into battle against the Masgans and perished, opened for this mysterious stranger. The Triari, the three palace guards and commanders of the Disi, found him sitting in the dusty throne that had been empty for so long.
And so, they had accepted him as Emperor: no mortal or immortal could open the gates and sit in the Mandate of Heaven but by virtue of his lineage. Zeshara had gladly abdicated and let this strange man rule.
For several decades, time ran its course and the Kingdom prospered. The Regency had taken good care of the Kingdom, and under the returned Emperor, it rose to even greater heights. Valana, long the dominant power in Alias, waxed in its second noontide strength. Her armies waged war in foreign lands, carrying back the princes of distant kings; her ships sailed upon distant lands, carrying back the wealth of exotic isles; her ambassadors traveled far and wide, until near all of Alias bowed before her might.
Emperor Tazmar took a wife in the sixth year of his rule. Soon thereafter she bore twins: a girl-child and a boy-child, and there was great rejoicing. Both grew quickly, becoming tall and strong and handsome and were much beloved by the people of the Empire. But, at the dawn of their twenty-second birthday, madness took the mind of the aging Emperor, and the Kingdom plunged into chaos.
The Colossi, the immortal, giant, servants of the Emperors, were sent to kill the young prince and princess. The great beasts were spotted outside of Saphiris, the city of Kings, by the night guards on duty at the Western Edge. And, so the burning of the Western Citadel began. Saphiris, the greatest city wrought by man, capitol of Valana, was under attack for the first time in thousands of years.
The Colossi, blind to all but the commands of their master, rammed full force into the adamant walls that countless armies had fallen before. Many had laid siege to it, a single one had conquered the walls to never leave. However, their ancient strength was enough to accomplish what uncountable mortal soldiers had failed to do: they breached the wall. The Colossi swatted away the human guards that strove in vain to drive them away. They stampeded through the Western Citadel, leaving fire and destruction in their wake. Their one goal was to find the Prince and Princess, and to kill them.
It was only when the discovery of the Prince’s absence was made did the Colossi retreat. The Princess had gone back to her mother the Queen’s people in the northwest parts of the Empire. The Prince, through some premonition or foresight, had fled the city days before.
Tazmar was wroth when he learned that the Prince had escaped to Rundora, a city on Delvis Isle in the center of the great lake Centrak, to rally his supporters and (in his eyes) usurp his father. He sent forth a great armada and numerous Colossi to kill the Prince and raze the city to the ground.”
It is now that the Emperor’s army arrives at Rundora. From his tower high above the city, Zeshara watches as the horizon seemingly thickens, and a massive fleet approaches the island. He looks sadly out onto the lake. In the fading light of a summer eve, the lake has turned red.
A scout walks to Zeshara and whispers,
“They are coming. The Emperor will show us no mercy.”
Roused from his reverie, Zeshara slowly turns his head and states,
“Marshal our forces.”
The scout leaves. Zeshara looks back over at the approaching invasion force, then turns and leaves the room. He had not imagined that the Emperor would send forth so many men. He traverses various courts, finally finding the Prince in his guarded chambers in the tallest tower.
The Prince stood before a large painting. It portrayed the royal family, not in its usual formal state setting, but as a family. A smiling father and mother with an unruly son and daughter.
The Prince, hearing Zeshara, turned.
“They are coming, sire.”
* * *
Several days later, a tide of steel marches toward the City walls from all sides. The Emperor’s armada stops a scant kilometer from the outermost walls of the city, its thousand crimson banners snapping in the wind. There issues no herald offering terms of surrender, only a hail of arrows that darken the setting sun and rising moon. Hundreds upon hundreds of siege engines fire, sending their destructive spheres into the city. This barrage is blocked; as the projectiles approach the city, they hit an invisible barrier that shimmers into view as it is hit.
A group of wizened men in dark robes move forward, surrounded by a phalanx of the King’s own guard, the Disi. They raise their arms and begin chanting in cracked, harsh voices. After several moments, a massive pentacle appears before them, crackling with arcane energies. It flashes, and a titanic blast of magic hits the shield. The entire shield glows as a massive silver bubble, then shatters.
From within, a bolt of argent and azure lightning strikes the army. But this is no arcane force, but the Saphron Paladins: guardians of Valana, and the greatest warriors in Alias. Their ferocious onslaught destroys the Disi phalanx, and the King’s mages are quickly slain. As the King’s armies begin to surround the paladins, they withdraw. The High General of the armies grits his teeth in anger, and curses the paladins.
In the tower above the main gate, Prince Ellis sighs to Zeshara.
“We cannot win this battle.”
“My Prince, your father truly wishes to kill you. He will sink this entire island if it means your death. We are your shield. We must hold them off long enough so the lowest ranks grow weary, or their strength is diminished so they can no longer strike at you when we fail.”
The opposing army marshals itself at the behest of its thousands of officers. A sirtie issues from the city gates, and the front ranks of the enemy are decimated, trapped by the enemy in front and their allies behind. And so, the battle begins in earnest.
The common soldiery of the kingdom clash; much of the best blood of Valana will spill today. Many who witnessed the Colossi attack have joined the Prince along with the Saphron Paladinate. The opposing side are the other divisions of the army, called from remote garrisons and the borders.
These men fight their friends, their brothers. Most of them know not why they strive thusly; but for that their lords told them to do so. Many are sick at heart; no man does not harbor a doubt. They are sick at heart, knowing that every time they kill, a small part of them also dies. The spirit of Valana is near broken. Those who survive will be haunted forever by the memory of that blood-red day.
Even after the sun set, the armies continue to strive. The magery of the Kingdom is potent in this day, and the field is lit with multicolored lights, seemingly fireworks let loose into the sky. From high above, the battlefield could have been a festival instead of a bloodletting. Each flash means the end of more good men.
The valiance or skill of the defenders, the Prince’s Men, as they came to be called, was greater than that of the King’s Men, and slowly but surely, they beat back their besiegers.
Like an old bull, the grey and red army of the Emperor slowly and reluctantly gives ground. They are slowly pushed back over the island and through the rolling green hills and back to their ships. The meadow will be green and hilly no longer; it will forever after be a packed red-earth plain, stained by the rust of sword, helm and blood.
The Grand General of the army was fearful: penalty for failure would surely mean, at best, his execution. He railed against his commanders for perceived failures.
“We are losing this battle. We have almost ten times their force, yet they continue to push us back. The beach cannot withstand the tide! How can this be!”
Grand General Falscon whirled, facing the General in charge of the western flank.
“You fool! How could you not break through their line? You had fourteen thousand men at your disposal to their three thousand! Three thousand! In the name of the Decemberess how...?”
Falscon proceeds to belabor his subordinates. They shift uneasily under his diatribes. He only pauses when a messenger with a bloody side and notched sword enters and pants in a broken voice,
“They have broken through... the paladins have crushed the western flank and broken the shield wall... we cannot hold them... they… will be here. Soon.”
With that, the messenger totters and falls, first to his knees, and then the ground. None of the commanders make any move to help him. No healer is called. One of the Generals remark cooly,
“We should probably move our command post.”
“That would be wise.”
“Alright,” Falscon roars, “then move! I do not wish to die here. You useless rabble probably want to live out the rest of your miserable lives, so let us stop dawdling and get out of here.”
A half hour later, the first of the Paladins break through the defenses surrounding the command post. The path they wrought was the first crack in a mighty dam; harbinger of the torrent that would soon burst through. Two paladins, a longblade and his friend the spearblade make it to the tent. They duly surveyed the recently vacated tent.
“It seems that they were here and have only recently left.”
His partner, the spearblade gave a noncommital grunt.
“If we’d been a little faster, we could have ended the battle right then.”
The two stood in the tent awhile longer. The longblade sighed and walked out. The spearblade stood awhile longer, pitying the dead messenger left in the tent. Then, he also leaves, returning to the battlefield.
* * *
Though on the western flank the paladins had been successful, the eastern front is presenting considerably more difficulty. It is a mass of struggling bodies. The burnished silver of the Prince’s men struggle against the red and gold of the Palace Disi, the elite troops of the Emperor. Single men fight duels, while in other areas entire companies clash. Only with great cost are the enemy pushed back.
Nevertheless, the valiance of the defenders shines through once again as several battalions of fresh paladins are sent forth, and the Disi are gradually forced to fall back, sustaining heavy losses, though perhaps not as heavy as that they wreak upon the defenders turned attackers. Only as their allies around them retreat and are replaced with the Prince’s men do they withdraw, in fear of being flanked and surrounded.
At dawn’s first glint, the battle finally begins to slow. Both sides have sustained heavy losses; the defenders have paid dearly for their gains. One in ten of the Prince’s Men are dead, but for each one, perhaps three of the King’s Men lie on the battlefield. By the time the disk of the sun had peeked above the horizon, the armies begin to disengage. Both are weary and many are worse: numb and bloodshocked. The King’s men retreat to lick their wounds, and the defenders fall back to regroup, for their lines had become spread thin in order to continue with their offensive.
The Prince exits Rundora alone. Zeshara has given him a message: the battle has weakened the King’s Men beyond expectation, and now the Prince may take his chance and flee as planned. There is a ship on the far side of the island from where the King’s fleet lies. While the rest of the Prince’s ships ambush the King’s fleet, he will sail away to a northern port and hide, rallying his supporters until he can face the King.
He knows, as does Zeshara, that it is merely buying time with blood: the King will find him. And there is no chance of his victory then. Emperor Tazmar, his father, wields the Mandate of Heaven and the might of all Halla.
Ellis rides through the plains littered with the wreckage of war. Corpses of the slain lay in macabre lines, as if they had been deposited ashore by some crimson tide. Broken arrowshafts pointed out of the bloodstained and crushed blades of grass. All sorts of weapons and engines of war lie discarded on the ground. Spurring his horse, Ellis continues forward through the field of death.
Soon from atop a hill he saw the new battlefield. The eastern coast of the isle was shielded by a fleet of ships. A considerably decreased army sat in front of the fleet. Farther away on two hills stood another army. Even after its victory, this army was still many times smaller than the other. The Prince sadly watched the plain. No, he will not flee, becoming oathbreaker, coward, traitor, to all these men. Here, the fate of his kingdom will be decided. He turns his horse towards where his men are encamped.
Ellis rides into camp slowly. The men who have fought for him stare at him with their eyes, twin pools of despair in white faces. “Tell us”, the eyes begg, “tell us why we fight and kill our brothers.” He wheels his horse around in what he approximated was the center of the camp and stops. He gives forth to them, at first hesitantly, then with growing passion and conviction.
“Hear me people of Valana. My father, the Emperor Tazmar has forsaken mankind. But, we shall not do as he has. He wishes for our end; so be it. He may wish it but he shall not have it! Today we fight. We fight for our families, our friends, our country... our future!”
He lifts his head to look into the eyes of his knights. More softly, he resumes.
“I see in your eyes the sorrow of what you have done. But you may sleep well, knowing you did the right thing. I too am sorrowful. And fearful. I fear for what may happen. I see it in your eyes also. But we must be brave.”
He unsheathes his sword and salutes. In the gathering light of the approaching dawn, it is a sliver of white lightning, its wielder a noble silhouette against the rising sun.
Silence holds for but a moment, but a slow mumble grows in volume and strength. The massed army lets forth an approving roar and surges forward like a river of steel. Commanders begin to shout after a numb silence, and the army marshals itself like a sleepy man who has had cold water dumped on his face. More quickly than any force should be able to, it is ready for battle.
Falscon stumbles out of his tent, woken by the thunder of the charging army. He rubs sleep-encrusted eyes and began to yell at someone, but stops when he saw what was happening.
In spite of his many shortcomings, Falscon was no fool. He was belligerent and haughty. He was moody and oftentimes cruel. But, he had some certain innate quality that had borne him to his current position as High General. In this moment of crisis, it bared itself.
In a calm, steely voice he begin yelling orders and answering queries of near-panicked officers. He talks to one shocked general.
“I said to prepare the lines. Of skirmish.” Falscon intoned levelly. “Do it, or we shall be overrun. They will show us no mercy, for we have shown them none.”
The armies of the Emperor slowly move into rough formations. Sleep-ridden officers astride weary horses scream hoarse instructions to their commands. Slowly, they arrange themselves into rough defending positions behind the palisades and earthworks they have built. But as each group has seemingly prepared itself, it is swept away by the incoming army.
An earsplitting crescendo rises as the opposing sides collide. As the bloody jewel of the sun rises into the sky, it reveals knots of struggling warriors, waves of steel and flesh crashing and tearing against one another. As the King’s Men marshaled themselves, they are swept away by the inexorable tide of the Prince’s men. As the sun rises to its noonday height, the grey and red of the Emperor’s men slowly recedes. Soon, they were forced back almost to their ships, fighting knee deep into the water.
The Prince rides among his men, shouting encouragement between blows. Trained as a Saphron paladin and of royal blood, he was a mighty warrior in his own right.
“Forward! Forward! Drive them back to their ships!”
His men heed his words and fight even harder, spurred to greater and greater deeds of valor. Seeing how far they have been forced, the King’s Men grow fearful, and begin to break off. Quickly, the retreat became a rout. Soldiers stream back to their ships, stepping upon each other in their rush to the ships. Many are drowned. The spirit of the invincible armada is broken.
Aboard the flagship of the erstwhile invading fleet, Falscon paces like a caged tiger. He says nothing, watching the ruin of the battle with a blank expression. Aides and lieutenants begged him for orders. His gaze passed over them blankly. Suddenly, a massive rent appears in his breastplate, and he crumples. After a few gasps, he expires in a crimson pool.
“This fool has failed me. Get him out of my sight; from now on, I do my own work. I bloody my own hands.”
It is the Emperor, come to finish the tasks his minions had failed at.
Fate Decrees This Will Occur
While his defeated soldiers floundered and crawled to the safety of their ships, the Emperor summoned the Colossi to do his bidding.
The Colossi are the eternal servants of the Emperor. No one (save perhaps for he) knows from whence they came. They are immortal, unless their forms are wounded nigh to oblivion by some great hero. It is rumored they are primeval chaos, sealed into earthly forms. Yet even their earthly shells betray their power: they are titanic, great as the mountains and older than them. Some take the form of strange beasts, like and unlike gigantic versions of animals. Others are great creatures standing on two feet.
Many so-called wise men have studied the Colossi. One returned, claiming the Colossi were actually beasts created from the bound souls of the millions that had fallen into the abyss of death since time immemorial.
The Colossi now heeded the commands of the man known as Tazmar. Slowly, they emerged from the deeps of the lake where they had waited. They rose, shedding sheets of water as they did. The ships of the King’s Men were thrown into disarray by their appearance, many foundering; thousands were thrown into the water to be crushed or drowned. Slowly, they ascended onto the island on the western side. From the eastern side where the Emperor’s ships lay burning, Ellis could see the moving mountains that were the Colossi.
“So it has come to this,” murmured the Prince. He had forced the Emperor’s hand.
A flash of shadows. It was Tazmar.
“Yes my son, now I shall kill you. But first, I shall let you live awhile. Witness as my power crushes this island and its proud city into dust. Watch and despair, or flee— flee and leave those who fought for you to die. Watch from afar as they curse you with their dying breath. And only then shall I...”
Ellis made a sudden convulsive movement; a flash later, his sword was covered in blood. Tazmar had dodged fast enough to avoid being disemboweled, but Ellis had landed a deep wound in his side. He took an involuntary step then steadied. He raised his hand from his side in salute; it was stained with blood.
And with those words, he vanished. Ellis was left holding the blood-stained sword in the same position as before. He looked down to see that his hands were shaking. He took a deep breath and mounted his horse. He galloped back to the citadel as fast as he could. His army followed its distraught leader back fast as it could. None had seen the Emperor, but all saw the looming shadows of their impending doom.
The Colossi moved as one, ponderously striding up the incline. They moved with single intent and purpose: to destroy the city before them. As they reached the plateau upon which the city stood, they stopped. They let out an eerie howl that chilled the defenders.
Slowly the Colossi climbed onto the granite plateau. They were peppered with hails of arrows and shot from the city’s siege engines, which seemed puny weapons to be fighting such mighty beasts. A biped Colossi bent over and tore off a piece of granite from the edge of the hill. He threw it in a long arc and the massive projectile struck the heart of the city. Arrows stopped from a moment and the Colossi charged.
Moving with incredible speed, they reached the walls. Mighty appendages struck the walls, rending massive cracks and shaking the ramparts. Dozens died each time one struck, crushed by collapsing masonry or falls from the walls Brave warriors jumped onto their bodies and carefully scaled to the beasts’ heads. They would stab their enemies’ eyes or foreheads. Many died in their attempts, but the beasts fell one by one, bleeding strange mist-like ichors.
Nevertheless, but for the odd loss, the Colossi drove deeper into the city. Each wall they met they hammered into dust, those who resisted were swatted aside like flies. Soon, many of them were pounding against the walls of the Citadel. However, the citadel walls were very different from the outer walls of the city. They had been carved from the bones of the earth, and even the Colossi could not break them; they were old as time immemorial and most likely would last till time immemorial once again.
As the Colossi destroyed the city, the remnants of the human armies of the Emperor made their way off the ships and toward the broken city, knowing of their enemy’s newfound vulnerability. Few of the Prince’s men were left to defend the ravaged city, but for the stragglers who had not made it back to the citadel. A desperate guerilla battle ensued, and even the heroism of the small ragtag rearguard could not hold up to the bloodthirsty and revenge-maddened soldiers of the Emperor. They were forced to retreat deeper into the city, relinquishing block after block. Farther within, the Colossi knocked on the citadel walls.
Within the Citadel, warriors rushed back and forth, dodging from one arrow slit to another, madly shooting and hoping to bring down the colossi. They carried shot to the siege engines, halfway bowed behind the ramparts. Slowly, they were succeeding. Colossus by Colossus, they were falling.
From atop a high tower at the heart of the citadel, the Prince stood, watching as the Colossi made their way into the city. He wished that he was out there with his men, but Zeshara had insisted...
“My lord, you cannot leave. If you are slain, the men will lose heart and all we have done will be for naught.”
Ellis had to agree. He was the key to the entire war. One hand slowly danced toward his sword, the other to the door. All he had to do was climb down the stairs and exit the tower. A quick dash across a couple walkways and he would be at the leading edge. And he would marshal his men and lead them to victory. And the whole cursed war would be over.
“I think not.”
He gave an involuntary shudder. Somehow someone had entered the room. It was Tazmar.
“Humph. Those soldiers I sent were useless.”
“Father, you look well,” said Ellis evenly, without turning.
Tazmar seemed paler than he had at their last meeting. Dark shadows framed his eyes, and his clothing hung loosely on his body.
“I did not appreciate your gesture. One would almost think you didn’t love your father anymore.”
Tazmar emphasized the word love just slightly.
But, it brought back years of memory for his son. Resolve wavered, then completely collapsed.
An early memory of a kind, bearded man over him as he lay in a cradle... the same man with a small boy over his shoulder... the man yet again laughing heartily with a tousle-headed boy while wrestling. Finally, an image of an older man sitting in a throne speaking kindly to a clear-eyed young man. The young men were the Prince. He struggled to suppress all his memories of his father.
“No... he is a different man now.”
Ellis looked up at the face of the man he called his father. It was now more lined and weary, yet it was the same man. He lowered his raised blade slightly, but then his father straightened and the spell was broken. His grip on the sword steadied.
A nimbus of dark energy encircles his father, a golden one the Prince. The energies radiating from the Emperor are noticeably more potent, the aurora around him greater and more terrible. They charge at one another and lock blades.
Tazmar disengages and whirls around, firing a blast of silver energy from his palm. It strikes the wall behind where Ellis had been standing and implodes, burning bright as the sun and then disappearing, leaving a rim of charred and melted stone.
The Prince flashes back into the visible spectrum behind his father and prepares to strike. He hesitates then thrusts, only to be met with empty air. Tazmar flickers away, moving so fast he leaves an afterimage.
The aura of dark energy surrounding Tazmar condenses into a pair of flickering wings. They beat once and he rises into the air. A finger twitches and a hail of dark needles from the wings speed toward the floor.
A pulse of golden light, and the dark shards dissipate.
A dull thump and a bulb of dark energy appears in the center of the room and implodes. The vacuum sucks most of the room’s contents into it. A noticeable cracking is heard as the columns struggled to deal with this added pressure. With a final groan, they give and the top of the tower collapses.
Ellis has survived, though a long scratch now runs across one cheek. He flickers again and is next to his father, a blade pressed against his neck. His resolve grows steadily.
“This ends now.”
And he swings to kill. But once again there is nothing.
“My dear, you must learn that such tricks will not work against me. I taught you all you know. Everything you are comes from me.”
Tazmar hangs in the air, gently bobbing up and down twenty feet away. The Prince dashes toward him through the air, leaving a golden trail in his wake. The two finally begin fighting in earnest.
Even as he battles, the Prince is besieged by doubt. He is fighting his own father, the man who taught him all... how can he truly hope to prevail?
A swing of a blade. A parry and then a twist. The blade dance back into play and arcs at the last moment to block a thrust. One blade slides down the length of another and thrusts and meets empty air. It is swung around directly and meets the other blade. The blades seem to move with minds of their own.
Slowly but surely, it seems that the Emperor is gaining the upper hand. His blade flashes faster, his spells seem more potent. A pair of mis-aimed blasts have destroyed half of the tower. Another more well-aimed one destroys one of the Prince’s wings, sending him tumbling into an ungraceful crash landing atop another tower.
As Ellis rolls back into standing position, a massive gauntlet strikes him, sending him through the rooftop and the two floors below. He crashes amidst a pile of furniture. Tazmar dives down through the hole like a hawk, sword in one hand, the other holding a nimbus of crackling energy.
The Prince gets up and fires a blast at the Emperor. He runs towards a wall and fires a blast, jumping through the hole he has created. He free-falls for some moments, then his lightwings are remade and he swoops upwards. Tazmar is waiting. Their swords clash in a fountain of sparks. Ellis uses the sword as an axis, and launches his entire body upwards. The maneuver sends Tazmar spinning.
Tazmar launches a wide arc of energy from his palm. Ellis avoids it by a hairsbreadth. Suddenly, he is caught by an invisible force. A clawed hand materializes around him, followed by the balrog it is part of. Ellis grabs his dagger from its sheath and stabs the hand, yanking down. The balrog roars in pain, and loosens its grip. Ellis slips out and fires a blast of energy that rips the balrog in half.
Tazmar is instantly upon him once more, and the Prince dodges the blow, though his lightwings do not. He falls once more.
The Prince realizes as he falls. He has little hope of killing his father, but perhaps he can weaken him enough to guarantee the survival of some of his allies. He will summon up all his remaining power, and use it in one final strike.
The two combatants alight upon a lonely tower, yet untouched by the fighting. They stand at opposite ends, then charge at one another, now glinting with all the power they can summon.
This would be the exchange that would decide the battle, the war, and consequently, the future.
As they meet, the nimbuses of energy surrounding each person collide and sizzle and strive against one another. From far away, it seemed a pair of wings, one a sizzling purple and the other a dazzlingly white gold flashed out. They seemed to flap in a death-agony, and flicker out of existence.
“So it ends.”
The top of the tower is dark. A figure is bent over the other and they seem to be locked in an embrace. The darkness lifts with a gust of wind.
One person is standing. The other seemed to be slightly hunched over. It is Ellis and Tazmar. Ellis is the slightly hunched one, and holds the hilt of a broken sword that has passed through his father’s body. He is weeping, rivers of tears that carves a trail down his grime- crusted face.
He knows what happened. As he had charged toward his father and his father toward him, his father had withdrawn his blade and released the energies around him. Before Ellis had been able to react, his sword had impaled his father. Now, he slowly drew out the broken, blood- wetted blade. The blade that had killed his father.
Tazmar put a hand on Ellis’s shoulder. The other held the hilt of a sword. A shudder passed through him, and then he steadied. He slowly walked to the edge of the ruined tower. Silhouetted against the setting sun, he was no longer the power-mad tyrant, but the mighty warrior, the wise king, the loving father.
“This is how is must be. Ih va eplayed the part fate has set for me… but have I played it well enough? I have tried… I shall pass and take with me the Mandate of Heaven. The line of kings shall pass as I pass...”
With that, Tazmar was silent. He stood for awhile longer then crumpled and fell down.
Through a bloody mouth he spoke.
“Your father loves you, Ellis. Farewell and I salute you.”
His eyes slowly closed for the last time. As life left his body, a single tear pooled onto a cheek. Ellis watched as it flipped through the air and hit the ground below.
Ellis fell to his knees, forgetting all that had occurred.
Like a meteor, Tazmar’s body fell to the ground below. No one noticed it for some time among the wreckage. He was smiling.
After the death of the Emperor, the battle turned in the favor the beleaguered defenders. The colossi, left masterless, stopped fighting and slowly left as in a daze. They departed to the remote and inhospitable or inaccessible reaches of the world until a new master called. Seeing their great foes leave, the defenders found new heart and drove the invaders out of the ruined city and off the ravaged isle. As the last of the soldiers limped aboard the fleeing ships, a bloodied Zeshara breathed a sigh of relief. The battle had been very close.
Atop the darkened tower, Ellis dropped his broken sword. He left it where it lay, and slowly descended the stairway.
The battle was over.
Though the battle was won, the war would not truly end for many centuries. Those of the late Emperor’s forces who had managed to escape fled to the southeastern parts of the Kingdom and easily captured it and established a new Kingdom. These two kingdoms would forever be at war, until the day a new Emperor could unite them. The old Kingdom of Valana was greatly weakened, for much of the best and brightest of her men had fallen in that battle.
Many days later, a pale, exhausted and bandaged Prince was seen entering Saphiris. He was able to open the gates of the Redemption Palace and was so hailed as Emperor. But, he was not able to sit in the Mandate of Heaven, a secret known to few. He ruled the weakened kingdom as well as he could and the deep wounds of war slowly began to heal. But, it would be many years until Valana regained the power she had before the Kin-Strife.
But, the prince’s, now emperor’s, own wounds were never truly healed and he died a mere ten years after his rule began.
Zeshara, by now an old man, became regent once more. And so after the return of a king and his death at the hands of his son, the Kingdom was again without an Emperor. The Regency was restored, and the old regent tried his hardest to hold his kingdom together and return it to the way it was in his youth.
With a sigh, Zeshara looks away from the sunset. He walks to his bed and lies down, closing his old eyes for the last time. His burden is lifted, and he goes to his well-deserved final sleep.
The Regency held for many years and the Regents preserved Valana for as long and well as they could. But the waves of time slowly eroded the Kingdom until it was a mere shadow of its former self, no longer men of the High House, but merely men with a memory of higher things. Finally, the line of Regents ended. All that was left to safeguard the kingdom was the Saphron paladinate, which had so far outlasted time. But even they would fall in time, for time is a cruel master.