They trained for seven days on the mountain slopes. By the end of the week, Alvin was so sore that he could barely move. The food was scarcely edible and the water swam with dirt. He wished that the war would hurry up and reach them so that he could go home. Maili Mae Albright had been driven almost entirely out of his mind.
Then, one day, without notice, the Army of the Southlands appeared on the plane below them.
The enemy was so distant at first, that it appeared to Alvin and the other recruits as a misshapen smudge, or a cluster of tiny ants. But it approached quickly and soon looked considerably more threatening.
The Army of the Southlands was led by a general astride a winged horse. His title, Alvin had been told, was the Lord of Carvil, and it was rumored that he was only half human. The lord's mother, it was said, was some sort of demon. Thus, the story went, the Lord of Carvil was an evil being who enjoyed eating the hearts of innocent children.
On the slopes of Ben Seanmhair, the soldiers of the Army of the Sysaran Empire were busy making preparations. The sun beat cruelly down upon them as they worked. Catapults were secured on the pass, and forests were cleared for their wood. More soldiers arrived from various nearby village to aid in holding Rionnag. The air was thick with anticipation.
Two days after the Army of the Southlands was sighted upon the southern plane, the mass had grown so near that the ground shook with its marching footsteps and the air echoed with its shouts.
The war had arrived.