Part 1--The Grasp of Winter: Prologue (1)

This is the story of Mathew Alabaster, heir to the throne of the North Lands, and the chaos that drove him from his home that he eventually drove back. This a story of clashing armies, frostbite in the dark, beasts of legend come to life, of the agony and struggle of the tempest that tore apart the North Lands-- and it is a story of how one shattered spirit braved the storm and struggled to regain what he has lost. Whether he truly regains what he lost, you will have to read here to find out.

(Please skip to the next page if you do not want to read the prologue.)

The tale of how Obsidia had come to power was carved into the minds of many through rumors and legends that seemed all too true not to believe. It had started as every other kingdom had, and how most had fallen as well: as a small fortress-city sovereign only inside the boundaries of its walls; a gnat in the face of the powerful empires of the land. For years, the single city had showed about as many signs of life as a pile of bones. Nothing and no one ever came in or out, and most neighboring kingdoms were not even aware of its existence. Then, about two decades ago, at sunset on the eve of the winter solstice, the passing army of a powerful emperor had stumbled across the city. They were on their journey to conquer a different city, but of Obsidia they were unaware, and so unsuspecting. Unsuspecting, and so unprepared.

The army was low on supplies, so it was said. The commander, regarded as a strategic genius by his enemies and a valiant hero by his own people, had ordered an attack on the city by morning to regain precious lost food, steeds, and manpower; a disease had spread among some of his men and he planned to take those who surrendered as slaves to make up for his soldiers’ deaths. The army remained in the cover of the forest next to the city, seemingly unbeknownst to all of its inhabitants.

At sunrise on the next day, the sun a blazing, blinding ruby painting the land red, the commander prepared to order his army to attack. He planned to use the element of surprise to his advantage, and was making a last minute evaluation of his battle plan on a map in his command tent. However, moments before he could order the charge, a single arrow fired from the city whistled through the air, not noticed by a single soul except for the one it would banish from Earth forever. And just like that, alone in his tent, the commander dropped dead with the shaft of an arrow protruding from his skull. His army continued to wait for his word to attack, but they needed not wait any longer. For at that moment, the armies of Obsidia, for the first time, unleashed themselves.

No one saw them coming. No one had any real chance to fight back. Clothed in camouflaged rags with shining steel beneath, they overran half of the enemy troops before the rest knew to fight back. They were all slaughtered mercilessly in what would become known as the Beginning of the Conquest; 5000 soldiers reduced to fleeing pockets of troops that hadn’t died in the initial onslaught. However, the soldiers of Obsidia did not stop driving the enemy back when they were retreating. They continued advancing, not to kill the rest of the army, although that they very much did. They kept advancing until they reached the closest city. Then the next one. They conquered city after city until most of the region was under their control, and the rest was history.

There were only three survivors in the emperor’s army that day; only two had legitimately cheated death. They had been missed by the Obsidia warriors when the wounded left on the battlefield were being “cleaned up.” The third was spared to send a message to the emperor. Obsidia, unknown to the world before that day, had declared war on his empire.

The End

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