After a constant battle for complete control over the land of Nadelia, the White Templar, an elite regiment of knights of the Kaameloth Kingdom, embark on a final crusade to wipe out the Lammenian barbarians of the south, and to rescue the kidnapped princess.
However, the mighty attack of the White Templar prompts a barbarian shaman in desperation to open a portal to a hellish dimension. Releasing uncontrollable terror that transforms the once grassy plains of Nadelia into a living nightmare.
CLANK! The sound of steel on steel clashing from the swords of the duelling knights echoes throughout the amphitheatre, as the packed audience watches in an awe of silence, occasionally gasping when a strike comes close to a direct hit. The cloudy afternoon sky and cool breeze allow endurance to last, as the two knights twirl and swing their swords in an acrobatic display of swordsmanship.
They flick arena sand into the air with ferocity fuelled strikes, blocking and countering each other’s attacks until Vlenn front-kicks his opponent, Alaric, in the chest, causing him to fall onto his back. This usually brings the fight to an end, because of the encumbering weight of the armour. Vlenn rushes forward and drives his sword to the chest of Alaric in a finishing move, causing the already mesmerised crowd and Alaric to gasp. But he stops the blade inches away and gives Alaric a wink when their eyes lock through the visor of their metal helmets.
The crowd roars in applause, content from the combat demonstration put on by two of the King’s elite soldiers. Vlenn reaches his hand out to lift Alaric off the ground, and they both give a bow to the satisfied audience. Fiddle music begins playing as the crowd disperses out of the amphitheatre and into the fairgrounds, to partake in various activities of the spring fair—an annual event hosted within the castle walls of Kaameloth, a citadel in the northern grassy fields of Nadelia. The two knights remove their helmets.
“Was the front kick necessary?” asks Alaric, as he shakes his shoulder-length jet black hair out of his eyes. Twenty-five years of age, the youngest recruit in the fabled White Templar, the King’s elite warriors. The 5’7 tall soldier is unhappy with the force of the kick delivered by his squad leader.
“You punched me in the head!” cries Vlenn in laughter. The light is bearing down on the vertical scar on his right cheek, which pierces into the shortly trimmed brown beard of the thirty-seven-year-old.
“And besides, it was more of a push with the foot,” he adds, wiping the sweat from his brow and running his hand through his short brown hair.
“Bah. Is my fist falling from the sky? It was merely a tap. No need to break my ribs,” says Alaric, still unamused.
“Come, my friend. I believe the mead and maids are calling us,” smiles Vlenn, as he throws his arm around Alaric, leading him to walk out of the nearly deserted stadium. They approach the entrance archway of the arena, where another knight is waiting for them, casually leaning on the wall.
“That’s it? I thought it would be a bit more of a show,” he mocks, critiquing their performance, as he strokes his furry ginger beard. It was Lance, another soldier out of the White Templar company—a six-foot warrior with a white robe fitted over his chainmail, the standard military uniform for the elite knights.
“Lance, surely you did not come here just to evaluate our combat. I would have made sure they charged you double otherwise,” Vlenn says with a smirk, as the three knights begin strolling down the long hallway that leads to a backstage area for the entertainers of the amphitheatre.
“The King has invited Lord Hamlin of Norfold to attend tonight’s feast. Being that Ricard’s garrison is on duty tonight, we will be seated next to the King’s table as internal security,” explains Lance.
“Security? We are knights, not some boot kicker that works at the inn. What have we done to deserve this demotion?” spits Alaric.
“Now, now. Our job tonight is just to maintain order. Think of one being undercover,” Vlenn insists, assuring the freshly joined knight, his deep voice echoing through the halls.
“If the King wants to do business with the Norfolds in peace, then so be it. We shall be merry, however controlled,” commands Vlenn. They reach the rear of the amphitheatre, where their horses await. Vlenn continues, as he begins to ready his horse.
“I suggest we all rest this afternoon. I foresee a long night ahead of us.”
As the moon rises and casts light on the mist that bleeds through the trees, flaming torches litter parts of the forest, illuminating the area for a gathering of the Lammenians. A tribal society that has risen from the ashes of the ancient Sapoleon kingdom, after being defeated by the Kaameloth kingdom centuries earlier during the Magic Wars. They look to the victorious kingdom with disdain, as they lurk in the forests of southern Nadelia. Whilst practising the magic and rituals that the Kaameloth kingdom sought to prohibit. Their soldiers—hundreds of barbarians with tattooed faces and piercings of animal bones—encircle a massive rock where their warlord, Ra’Shaak, stands. Donning animal fur and a wolf skull mask, his bone necklaces rattle as he thrusts his boneblade into the sky. Shouting and motivating his army, psyching them up whilst his main shaman, along with a few other commanders, stands a couple of steps behind him.
“Our soil. Our fruit. These suckers of the monarchy have taken everything from us. With our god, Krill, on our side, tonight’s the night their tower of rule will begin to crumble.”
The barbarians roar in unison, wide-eyed with paint-stricken faces. Some are even shoulder-thumping each other for added motivation. Their fearless warlord continues.
“So let them sip their wine and choke on their boar flesh, because it will be the last they do so. Because when they have finished gorging, our bloody dagger will strike. And we, the Lammenians, will rule Nadelia once again!”
The barbarians cheer and applaud whilst smashing their shields against their weapon of choice—whether it be a sword, club, or axe. As the barbarians wild themselves up, the old shaman, Lothar, uses his wooden staff, which has a goat’s skull fixated on the top, to hobble his scrawny body up to Ra’Shaak.
“The moon cycles of the coming days will strengthen the magic, my lord. You could not have picked a better time,” his voice croaks, as his black war paint glistens from the flame light. Ra’Shaak spins to face his shaman and commanders.
“The element of surprise will be in our favour tonight. You can save your sorcery for now, Lothar,” the warlord spits out before continuing. “Assemble your garrisons. Kaameloth blood will spill tonight.”
The thumping of the war drums begins as they march through the forest. Along with his entourage of berserker warriors, Ra’Shaak leads on his black warhorse, exiting the forest and spilling out into the plains, as the light of the moon shines onto their target; the mighty citadel of Kaameloth.
CLINK. Glasses and cups filled with alcoholic beverages smack into each other by merry patrons as they laugh and dance to the music played by the string band. Whilst others occupy the three massive rows of dinner tables in the great town hall of Kaameloth. A large two-storey brick structure, around 50 metres in length, able to host funerals, weddings, and other events because of its wide open space. Bottles of wine, candles, and food, ranging from roast meat to vegetables, inhabit the wooden tables as around five hundred people from all classes dine together. Whilst King Aldene Edison and his sophisticated entourage sit at the grand table at the far end of the room, on a two-metre raised bit of floor which overlooks the party.
“Bah! The stallions from Evergreen need to be run off a cliff. Last time I put any gold on those mutts. I was ready to jump the barrier and whip them myself,” King Edison spits out, still disgruntled at losing gold at one of the horse races. Candle light shines onto his brown beard, which slightly drapes over his purple and gold robe. His crown slightly slumped to the right side of his head as he grips his chalice of wine.
“They normally have the best breed. You didn’t have the jockeys beaten this time, did you?” smirks Lord Hamlin, ruler of Norfold, a smaller but neighbouring kingdom to Kaameloth. He refills his cup and King Edison’s with wine. His short jet black hair matches his black long-sleeved shirt, occasionally dabbing at his neatly trimmed moustache with a cloth to remove any remnants of wine.
“I promised the Queen not to act like a sore loser this year. Apparently, it sets a poor example,” said Edison, as he looks over the festivity.
“I’m sure a few gold pieces lost won’t send you broke. Surely your trade tariffs will make back the money, considering your crops supply food to most of Nadelia,” says Hamlin as he slumps back into his chair.
“Ah, yes. Using the treasury to fund my gambling addiction. I cannot see that going down too well in the public eye,” Edison says with concern. “They’re already slightly sour at me for raising taxes.”
“Again? By the heavens, are you going to start taking estates next?” Hamlin says in amazement, being that it was double the amount of what the Norfold kingdom taxes. The King replies with an undertone of a growl.
“Having a large army cripples finances, Hamlin. Three meals a day for each soldier, weapons, and don’t get me started on the logistic side of things. I understand why kingdoms relying on mercenaries is the current trend.”
Hamlin calmly nods in agreement as a smile creeps across his face, knowing his next talk of business will be much more acceptable to swing in his favour.
“Which brings me to our next trade. We would like to have some of the Kaameloth troops stationed in Norfold, for the right price, of course,” Hamlin proposes. The King smirks.
“For extra muscle if the people misbehave, eh? I thought the Norfold kingdom folk were generally quite happy,” Edison says with a smug smile.
“Not exactly,” responds Hamlin, as his smile disappears and his tone becomes serious. His head tilts towards Edison as he watches the party. “Many times now, our rangers have seen the Kenshutsu Empire outside of our borders. Their ships have been in port, with their people disappearing into the land.”
The King’s smirk disappears as his blood runs cold, as he knows that the Kenshutsu Empire is a superpower that rivals Kaameloth. An adversary that has always been in contest with trades and financial power, but never in a direct conflict that led into warfare. Hamlin continues.
“Being that they have been assembling in the north, if they were to invade Kaameloth, they will have to pass through Norfold first. Having extra soldiers stationed will hold them at bay, allowing you to prepare for an invasion. Being that it takes half a day to reach Kaameloth from Norfold by horse.”
Edison strokes his beard in contemplation.
“That is, if the Kenshutsu Empire passes through Norfold first. We can spare Norfold a couple of garrisons,” he says, knowing that Norfold cannot defend against the Kenshutsu Empire by themselves.
“My advisor and I are thinking more of a division,” responds Hamlin, nearly causing Edison to spit out his wine.
“By the gods. And I suppose you expect our children to take arms if there are any invaders?” Edison says in sarcasm.
“I will spare five hundred. Not five thousand.”
Hamlin chuckles as he expected the King’s reaction to be uncharitable.
“Well, look, we are willing to pay generously. And if you think about it, it is in your best interest to do so,” says Hamlin, as he stares at the King with a slight aura of desperation. Edison sighs with his response.
“You can have one division, a thousand soldiers stationed at Norfold for ten gold per soldier. I’ll have Commander Swithin to see it through. He will delegate the amount of horses, knights, and bowmen,” he says and takes a sip of his wine, his eyes gazing back over the party.
“Thank you, my lord. Let’s hope these men will not have to face battle,” Hamlin says in relief, as he leans forward to catch a glimpse of the King’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Lyndal, positioned at the end of the table in the adjacent line of royals and lords. Quietly eating her food, not interested in the conversations taking place around her.
“Although they have yet to send an emissary. Perhaps they‘ve caught wind of the maturity of your princess,” he says with an enormous smile.
“Bah! Out of the question. The Edison bloodline shall remain pure as it always has been. If she marries, it will be with someone from Nadelia,” the King spits out whilst Hamlin chuckles.
“I knew that would get you fired up,” smirks Hamlin, as they clink their cups in cheers.
Midnight, the changing of the guard takes place at the gatehouse entrance to the Kaameloth citadel, a 10-metre high iron gate encased in a stone archway with watchtowers on either side standing at 25 metres tall.
“Whew. You smell of piss. You been drinkin?” says the guard, finishing his shift to the one about to start.
“Oh, we may have had a couple to get through the night. It’s alright. We’ll take it from ‘ere,” responds the slightly drunk guard.
“Good. You can deal with that then,” utters the guard, pointing to a single hooded figure casually approaching the gate from the other side.
“I’ll deal with it,” the drunk guard says confidently as he opens the gate and approaches the hooded stranger, stepping out into the rolling grasslands where the gentle night breeze passes by. Meanwhile, another slightly drunk guard belches as he observes from the watchtower.
“You lost, friend?” the guard asks. The hooded figure stops a few metres away, their head facing down.
“Oi. You alright?” the guard asks again. The hooded figure lifts their head, and the light from the gate lamps shines onto the face of a barbarian woman, with black face paint and wild eyes. Before the guard could shout for alarm, out of the darkness an arrow whooshes past the barbarian woman, narrowly missing her head and penetrating through the neck of the guard. His eyes roll to the back of his head as he chokes and collapses to the blood splattered ground. Before the watchtower guard could react, another arrow speeds through the air and pierces his chest. Whilst another impales the guard in the second watchtower, causing him to stumble backwards off the watchtower and slam onto the ground. The barbarian woman rushes into the gatehouse and opens the iron gate. Signalling the all clear for the Lammenian tribal army to emerge from the darkness, and spill into the Kaameloth Citadel to begin their reign of terror.