Chaniir's grand army sat encamped on the desert dunes of Kazad. The peoples of the two great nations of Chaniir and Kazad had been mortal enemies for thousands of years, and the time for the final crushing of Kazad was decreed by His Majesty King Farsanjin of Chaniir. The greatest collection of the loyalest and bravest men in Chaniir's history had gathered to either destroy Kazad or die trying. But if they were not to return, how would Chaniir fare without its loyalest and bravest?
In the central tent of the camp, Farsanjin's son Parsios and highest ranking general Eturbides met to discuss the coming invasion.
"Prince Parsios, remind me why you are here."
"My gracious father, King Farsanjin, listened to my pleas and allowed me to lead this glorious campaign. Why do you ask, General?" responded the prince.
Parsios couldn't help but feel uncomfortable as he saw in the corner of the room a shady figure who Eturbides considered his"friend" from the Patene. His supposed purpose was to train the troops in the newest and best military arts, but the way he listened to everything Parsios said with so much of a sense of mission that Parsios was convinced he was a Kazadi spy.
The general answered Parsios.
"I need to know how you think you will be able to contribute to this war effort. If you cannot find a single reason why you are qualified to lead this campaign, then I suggest, for the soldiers' sake, you come up with one."
Parsios looked troubled.
"Well, I am royalty, of course. The men are inspired to be in my presence. It is as if they are fighting in the eyes of the gods themselves. I am an important man, General. More important than you."
Eturbides let out a condescending chuckle. Then the Patenian in the corner laughed as well.
"Prince, you do know this is a new age," said the Patenian. "You must know that in this age of reason the people are no longer inspired by the likes of you. You are just a man with political power, and you still have yet to prove that you are qualified to take on that role."
Parsios lifted his fist and was prepared to furiously strike the Patenian. He moved in, but he was stopped by Eturbides.
"Calm yourself, my prince!"
Parsios clenched his fist in anger.
"How dare you speak to me like that, you worm!" exclaimed Parsios.
But then one of the guards outside of the tent screamed in pain. Parsios, who did have a good heart deep down, forgot about his anger and rushed out to see what was wrong. The Patenian simply smiled a devious smile.
Within seconds, the entire camp was in an uproar. There were several dead and wounded men, and soldiers were rushing around, putting on their armor, grasping their weapons, asking a lot of questions and doing a lot of cursing. The Kazadi warriors were upon them! Warriors from Kazad have an uncanny ability to be almost completely undetectable out in the desert and are able to strike at opportune times. This time, the Chaniiri army was very unprepared. The battle was then in full swing.
Parsios thought he would be safe where he was, but the Kazadi had attacked the center of the camp hardest in an attempt to take out the leaders. He had to retreat to save his life. As he fled the central command tent he noticed far off in the distance a large portion of the Chaniiri army leaving the battle casually. The Patenian left the camp to join them.
Parsios ran behind a shied wall, and a Kazadi warrior leaped at him from a surprisingly long distance. Before Parsios was cut to ribbons, a shield was lifted from the wall and placed in front of him. The Kazadi's weapon cut into the wicker shield and almost completely penetrated it, but the warrior wasn't quite strong enough. The warrior had trouble pulling his hatchet out of the shield and decided to abandon it as he noticed Chaniiri soldiers coming towards him. He then led them on a wild chase.
Parsios looked to his side to see who was responsible for saving his life. It was an ordinary looking young man who was most likely one of the lowest ranking members of Chaniiri society. The man looked at Parsios.
"My prince!" he exclaimed, "I am truly humbled to be in your presence! Quickly, sir, get to safety! I will sacrifice myself to save you!"
Parsios paused. It was as if all his notions about life were suddenly obsolete. He had almost tasted death, and realized there was a lot more to the life of a Prince of Chaniir than he had previously comprehended.
"Come with me," ordered Parsios.
The man didn't think twice. He followed Parsios. He followed him to the edge of the battlefield. And he followed him into the open desert.
Parsios awoke in the sand. The sun was high in the sky, and the desert was devastatingly hot. He saw the man who had saved his life coming near with a camel loaded with provisions.
"Thank the Good King Lehon you survived, my prince!" said the man. "We fell asleep after we were about a mile from the battle. I went back there this morning to see what I could find, and I found this camel. Not much was still alive. I think the Kazadi killed or took prisoners of all of our men. Any others are probably wandering the desert like us."
"The bastards left us to die, that's what!" said an infuriated Parsios. "That blasted Patenian and his cronies who abandoned the real men of Chaniir and left them to die in a pool of their own blood!"
Parsios broke down into tears. He began to curse himself for leaving his men to die, and for leading them out there in the first place.
Then the man who had saved the prince's life spoke. "I don't think this battle was your fault, my prince. I heard some of the higher ranking men talking. They said this campaign and the tactics chosen were the doings of lobbyists from northern cities. They said that untrustworthy men were out to ruin the good name of the royal family. I think."
The two spent the afternoon thinking about the battle. The shock was immense. The horrors they witnessed were enough to haunt them for the rest of their lives. But the fact that they didn't die gave them a feeling that they still had a purpose. They had something they needed to do. They needed to figure out what was going on and how to stop it. The northern cities of Chaniir were always ambitious, and believing that they intended for Chaniir's finest men to die was not far-fetched.
The man who saved Parsios introduced himself as Tabat Belkava, a Siffite from the south of Chaniir. The Siffites served Chaniir, and it was his duty as a fresh new man to serve King Farsanjin. He explained to Parsios that Safa did indeed have its own king, but the king of Safa was loyal to Chaniir's king. Tabat's parents died when he was young. He had been living with his sister who had married a wealthy Siffite. Now that the campaign was over, Tabat wanted to go home. Since Parsios wanted to get back to Chaniir anyway, they both began to go back west guided by the sun, the moons, and the stars.
After traveling for a few days, Parsios and Tabat found a town and some roads. They knew they were back in Chaniir. While in the town, they learned the terrible truth. Chaniir had been overthrown by the northern cities, who now called themselves the United Provinces. All members of the Chaniir royal family were murdered except for Parsios and his brother who had fled to a royalist fortress. To make things worse, the United Provinces' allies, the Celestans, had occupied Safa while many of its fighting men were away fighting the Kazadi.
"I am a wanted man," said Parsios. "If I am found, the Provinces Statesmen will not hesitate to kill me. I... I have to go to Safa and lay low a bit."
"Alright," said Tabat. "The Celestans are out to get Siffite royals, so you should be safe. We can stay with my sister. I sure hope everyone's alright..."
Parsios and Tabat traveled to Safa. The countryside was more or less unaffected, but in the city things were getting out of hand. The Celestan troops had enacted martial law and were on a serious power trip. In addition, they had ransacked the ancient Siffite royal palace and the Siffite King Melqizedek was nowhere to be found.
"It's most likely they executed him," said Parsios.
Tabat looked down. He had always dreamed of meeting the king, who from what Tabat had heard of him was quite the role model. The young Siffite failed to hide his sorrow.
Parsios just kept walking and said, "Meh, he was probably a jerk anyway. Now the Siffites know who their real king is."
Parsios instantly felt sick to his stomach. He couldn't believe he just said that, after all the growing up he had just done over the last few days. He looked at Tabat expecting to have to defend himself against an enraged Siffite. But Tabat just kept walking. Parsios began to think about the loyalty some men had to their kings, countries, and other things that could inspire loyalty. Perhaps the Patenian was wrong about the new age coming so soon. But then... perhaps Safa was lost in time.
After spending some time in the Siffite capital of Qyae'sko with Tabat's sister, the household was approached by a military man with quite the beard. He knocked on the door. Parsios opened the door and was shocked. For a moment he thought he was going to be subject to conscription by the Celestans. He was half right.
The man spoke in a deep desert accent, something no Celestan would have.
"Fellow Siffites, I bring good news. King Melqizedek lives! He has called on all of his men to muster at the Baramed cliff to end the forces of Celesta and bring freedom back to Safa!"
"And if I refuse to go with you?" responded Parsios.
"I am afraid you do not have a choice. As a Siffite, no, as a man, you have a divine duty to protect your king, country, family, and faith," replied the Siffite. "If you do not come willingly, then my men and I will take your estate by force and use it as a stronghold against the Celestans and take you prisoner!"
Parsios and Tabat were conscripted. Tabat was overjoyed to be in the direct service of the king, but Parsios could not have been more disappointed. But he did not want to tell the Siffites who he was, for did not trust them.
The army of Safa was, to Parsios, surprisingly enthusiastic. The array of men gathered a little ways off from a huge desert cliff were encamped as if in a siege. As it turned out, a Celestan army had taken position on the Baramed cliff. The two armies were about even in size. The difference was in the situation of the battle about to take place. Most of the Siffites were in a state of zeal and they had experience living and fighting in the desert. The Celestans, however, had the high ground. The battle would not be easy for either side.
"Curses!" exclaimed Parsios. "Of all the battles I could be fighting, I have to waste my time here? I need to live so I can return to Chaniir and fight along side my brother against the United Provinces. Otherwise, all that is important will be lost!"
"My prince," said Tabat, "I wish to fight this battle. But I know that you do not, and can not for that matter. You must live, my prince, that is why the Good King Lehon spared you in the battle against the Kazadi. I will cover for you if you desert the battle."
And desert the battle Parsios did.
"Troops! Fall in!"
A screech from one of the Siffite unit commanders shook Tabat to the core. A low ranked unit commander by the name of Komad was assigned to command the group Tabat was in. Komad wasn't a quiet man, or a kind man, and his voice was high and shrill. All of his troops hated him, but he seemed to enjoy it.
"An order from King Melqizedek to the entire army!" screamed Komad. "March!"
Tabat and the other Siffites didn't know exactly what it meant to fall in, as they looked more a mob than a formation, and their march was more of just a walk towards the intimidating Baramed cliff. From the cliff-side forts of the Celestans, flaming projectiles flew at the Siffites far in front. Komad's unit was in the middle of the army, but still it was too close for comfort. Soon the walk turned into a run. And soon Celestan banners were in sight. And then Komad gave a shrill battle cry and charged at armored men who stood in lines like real soldiers. Those must have been the Celestans!
Tabat and a few other Siffites stopped and put their shields together and their spears forward. They were hoping that such "professional" tactics would help them not get killed. But after being in this position for a few minutes and not getting any impact, they moved out to try to find Komad, who had literally lost himself in the battle along with the other Siffites in the unit. There was no one they recognized in sight. Just a few crazy Siffites getting slaughtered and Celestans. Many Celestans.
The Siffites began to flee. Tabat was filled with fear and began to flee as well. Things got worse when an exceptionally large Celestan without a shirt on barged in throwing men around and came upon one of the fleeing Siffites. As the man tried to escape, the Celestan beat him to the ground and held down his head. Then the Celestan yanked the man's head back and put his fingers in the man's mouth. After a pull by the Celestan, there was a blood-curdling snap of the Siffite's jaw and the man fell to the ground. The Celestan gave a victory cry. Another Siffite charged at him to avenge his fallen brother, but the Celestan simply picked up a sword from the dead man and in a single well-placed blow took off the man's head.
Tabat and the Siffites were horrified yet amazed at this man's strength. As the Celestan took in the applause of his comrades, a horseman rode by swiftly and cut half-way through the Celestan's neck with a machete, slicing in two his carotid artery. Now the Siffites cheered as the horseman rode around triumphantly. Then he looked at the Celestans.
"I am Milqart, lord of the Tarafim, the high temple guards of the Siffite high temple of Lehon! Flee before my might!"
The inspired Siffites let out a battle cry and charged the Celestans, whose champion had fallen. Milqart led the Siffite horde crashing into the Celestan ranks. Tabat beat down a spear with his shield, but being of slow nature, was overtaken by Siffites before he was able to kill a man. But Tabat was still unsure if he was able to kill. He had never done so before.
Tabat and many other Siffites slowed down to a halt breathing heavily. They looked on as the Siffite cavalry and chariots rode down the fleeing Celestans. While this was only a section of the battle, it was noticeable that the entire battle was about to be won by the Siffites. Tabat sat down. He was glad to be under the leadership of such great men as Milqart.
Meanwhile, in the Celestan camp, Commander Umbrius of the Celestan army was trying to figure out how he could escape. But before he could, he heard the wheels of chariots coming into the camp. Siffites swarmed in and surrounded Umbrius. Then King Melqizedek approached him.
"Listen Siffite..." said Umbrius, "...I have... powerful friends... anyone with common sense would ransom me back to the Celestans. Look, if you let me go, I will excuse you actions here today and allow you to keep your lives when you face justice in front of the Celestan courts!"
Melqizedek frowned. "We are taking our lands back. We will not take Celestan 'justice'. And you shall share the fate of your men. That is how any real leader would wish to go down. You should feel privileged to die along such fine men."
Then Melqizedek drew his blade and smote Umbrius with great slaughter. The Siffites gave a shout of victory. The day was won by Safa.
In the next few days, Melqizedek reclaimed his lands from Celesta and prepared to aid Chaniir's fight for freedom. But the war was far from over.
Parsios had with great difficulty reunited with his brother. They entrenched themselves in the last royalist stronghold of Sephalae and prepared to retake their kingdom...