• “Shields up!” 26-year-old Voran, heir to the throne of the Avalon Empire, cried out as a fleet of black arrows arced over the walls of the burning city and descended towards the weary defenders. He, and several other nearby Avalon soldiers, crouched underneath their shields as the arrows came down, taking with them a few unfortunate swordsmen who were unable to get their shields up in time. Voran stood as a messenger came running up, “What is it?” Voran asked.

    “I bring word from the western defenses, my lord.” The messenger replied breathlessly, “Their primary lines have been overrun, and they are currently holding at the secondary lines.”

    “Good.” Voran said over the sound of a nearby tower collapsing from an enemy catapult shot, “Tell them to fall back to our position as quickly as possible. It does not seem like we will be able to hold the city for much longer.”

    The messenger nodded, “Yes, my lord.” He said and ran off.

    One of Voran’s seconds-in-command approached, “My lord, the enemy has taken the outer wall and are flooding into the city. We must retreat before more lives are lost.”

    Voran muttered something under his breath, “Very well.” He stated, “Sound the retreat and tell every man that you see to meet at Altair.”

    “Yes, my lord.” The man replied and sprinted away, shouting the retreat order.

    Several days ago, one of Voran’s scouting parties happened upon a barbarian army headed for the Avalon city of Mos Vinir in southern Avalon. The party returned and sounded the alarm and before long, the enemy army attacked. Voran and his men had driven back the first attack by the barbarians, but it wasn’t long before the main army laid siege on the city. The Avalon defenders had held out for as long as they could, but with their depleted manpower and the city falling into ruins around them, it was hopeless.

    Voran motioned to the two nearby soldiers to follow him towards the stables. Immediately, the few workers that were there readied Voran’s horse and two others for Voran’s soldiers. A few seconds later, the three of them rode out of the stables just as an enemy catapult shot crashed through the roof, reducing the stables to a pile of rubble. “Fall back!” Voran hollered as he rode through the streets of the city, “Fall back to Altair! Retreat through the rear entrance!”

    Suddenly, a small section of the wall off to Voran’s left collapsed and forty or so dark warriors poured in, their wicked looking blades gleaming in the fading light, and attacked Voran and his retreating company. Voran drew his sword from its sheath on his back, dismounted from his horse, and ducked as a dark warrior swung his sword near Voran’s neck. Voran rolled and quickly came into a combat stance as the warrior came at him once again, blade held high. Dodging the warrior’s powerful blow, Voran knocked the sword out of his surprised enemy’s hand and slayed him with a quick slash of his blade. In a matter of minutes, all forty of the dark warriors were dead, along with about fifteen of Voran’s twenty men.

    Voran remounted his horse, “Get through the rear entrance!” he called. With that, he and his men made their way through the dark and murky caverns and eventually emerged out onto a vast prairie adjacent to the blue, bubbling waters of the Olos River. A day and a half went before Voran and the remainder of his army passed through the gates of the well-fortified city of Altair and into the city. Voran took a deep breath and dismounted his steed just as a man came trotting up, “Lord Voran.” The man called, “I bring word from your father in Avalon.”

    “Yes?” Voran said.

    The man cleared his throat, “The great Arc Sage of the Antherios Empire, Graybeard, has called a summit in the city of Omigot on the Dread Isle and has requested you and your father personally to represent the Avalon Empire.”

    Voran ran his hand through his black hair, “I see.” He said thoughtfully, “Very well, I will go. Ready my ship.”

    “We already have, my lord.” The man stated.

    “Good. Tell the good wizard that I am on my way.”