• Many wars were fought on the continent of Hestia, but what most consider to be one of the greatest wars out of the total sixteen was the Fifteenth War of Himadria (the wars are named after the loosing nation).
    It’s origins are simple enough to understand. Tension was high between Avia and Himadria; Avia pushed its boundary into the territories of Himadria, who responded by raiding a rural temple and killing a prominent Avian priest. Avia declared war on Himadria, but the first actual fight didn’t occur until a month or two later. Avia mounted a failed attack on Himadria that was more of a skirmish; while Mikkopolis, allied with Avia, skirmished Oengus to keep them from aiding Himadria. After a series of small battles, Himadria surrendered after the capitol walls were crushed in the only real battle of the whole war.
    Perhaps one of the reasons why this war plays such a major part in the plot of Hestia’s history is because it brought the main players of our story together. Form this war, we chronicle the lives of some of the greatest rulers of the continent, each of their friends, and, above all, the bonds that formed between them. So here I am, to record the stories of great war leaders, kings, queens, and their companions in these events that brought them together.

    * * *

    A few years ago…

    Despite the late hour, every single candle was lit in the topmost tower of the Palace of Mikkopolis. In her room, Adena, the Queen of Mikkopolis, brooded about the upcoming meeting with the Avian leaders. It wasn’t too long ago when Avia proposed an alliance with Mikkopolis, and this meeting was arranged to discuss the territories and resources they would share.
    Their guests weren’t going to be complete strangers. Years and years ago, the leaders all attended the same academy, the Sophira, and were even best friends there. But Adena knew better: Avia only wanted Mikkopolis as an ally because they were the only nation more powerful than Avia. They didn’t want to get caught on the bad side of Mikkopolis.
    Although the battle would be a pretty long one, considering we’re almost equal when you balance all the advantages out, Adena thought as she stared up at the glass ceiling. In a sturdy frame of gold-plated steel were set hundreds of gems, most of them carved with abstract patterns. At the center of the domed ceiling was a circular slab of clear glass, revealing a stunning view of the night sky. Other parts of the Palace were like this as well, each one of them an original design by Adena.
    When she first became Queen, the previous ruler had left the Palace in an extremely poor state. Walls and spires were reduced to rubble from a previous war and never repaired, leaving Mikkopolis almost ridiculed by the other nations. Determined to make a big impression when she was announced as the new Queen to every civilians surprise, she set right to work with a pencil and paper. To conserve money, Adena kept the parts of the Palace that were still strong. She ordered the rest of the palace to be built with the special whitesand bricks from Oengus. Due to the heavy expense of whitesand, Adena decided that since Mikkopolis was abundant in gold, she should use that to her advantage. The result was a gold-plated steel framework inlaid with carved glass and gems, much like her own ceiling.
    The Palace soon became the icon if Mikkopolis, looking like something taken from a fable. When people hear that this was the work of the new, relatively unknown Queen, everyone’s attention turned to Adena. She was praised and credited with restoring Mikkopolis to live up to its legends. She didn’t mind the attention, as civilians knew when to adore her and when to leave her be, but it certainly didn’t make her life easy. If she made a single mistake, the other nations would find that as an excuse to laugh at Mikkopolis, and Adena would not be able to stand that. Her pride was too much to her.
    Adena sighed and sat up in her chair, remembering something. She walked to the other side of the room and began rummaging through a drawer. At the very bottom was an old and half-shredded folder. Opening it, she found what she was looking for: and old graduation picture of her class. There she was, kneeling in the front row next to Persius, who would become the King of Mikkopolis soon afterwards. And the current leader of Avia, the High Priest, was kneeling on the other side of Persius. Adena’s old friend Haki, whom she heard is now the High Priest’s aid and successor, was standing to the far left of the back row. And there was Bellona, who was currently making big progress becoming queen in Himadria. She recognized some of the other smiling faces, but she couldn’t think of their names anymore, and she was much too tired to find the name list in the mess of her drawer.
    Adena looked over the picture again. We haven’t met since we all graduated, she thought as she set the picture down on her desk. Things are about to get very interesting.

    * * *

    Present day…

    The halls of Himadria Castle were silent and empty except for the occasional soldiers patrolling. Two of them, Timour and Johnathan, just finished their shift and were heading back to their barracks. Accompanying them was Donogh, the General of Himadria.
    “So, what did the queen want to see you for?” Johnathan asked.
    Donogh paused, wondering whether he should tell them or not. Then he decided they were going to find out the next morning anyways, so telling them now would lead to no harm. After all, they some of the only loyal friends he has here.
    “Avia called war on us,” he stated.
    Timour and Johnathan looked at each other. It wasn’t that much of a surprise. After all, it was a highly respected priest that was killed, and nobody takes a dead priest of their own nation kindly.
    “Well, that was bound to happen,” Timour said. “We had it coming.”
    “Who did it, anyways?” Johnathan asked.
    “I’m not sure,” Donogh said. “I think Bellona might’ve hired an assassin to do that.”
    “Is she crazy? Provoking war on Avia?” Johnathan wondered.
    “No, unfortunately not. She has me, and that queen’s going to squeeze every bit of personal gain out of me before I’m past my prime.”
    “Or maybe an excuse to get you killed. Dispose of you,” Timour added. “Everyone knows that you and her don’t get along at all. Like mixing oil and water.”
    “Well, that’s the least of our worries here,” Johnathan said. “We’re against war with Avia!”
    “But as mentioned earlier, we’ve got Donogh! He’d be as famous as Avia’s high priest if it weren’t for the queen!” Timour exclaimed.
    Donogh nodded. “That part’s true.”
    There was a few moments of silence as he walked past one of the few windows of the castle. He could see the whole city of Himadria laid out, the Ganges River weaving gracefully though the city. If it weren’t for this ominous castle dominating the city, Himadria would actually be a nice place to live, he thought.
    Each nation had a primary export from which the vast majority of money and goods were earned. While Avia grew rich from their crops and eagles and Mikkopolis from its vast supply of gold, Himadria grew wealthy from the constant demand of iron and steel. This resulted in shop after shop filled with imported luxuries lining the streets. The only problem was that there were hardly any people to buy them except themselves; Himadria was right in the middle of the Himalayan Mountains. The dreary, chilly weather didn’t help either. Sometimes Donogh wondered why he even decided to come here. Out of all the places in Hestia, he chose the dullest nation.
    No, dull but essential, he reminded himself. If it weren’t for us, the rest of the nations will be useless. Gold and precious stones may make you rich, but they’re nothing compared to good steel.
    “So,” Timour said to break the silence. “Himadria versus Avia. The Nation of Steel and Mountains against the Nation of Birds and Savannahs.”
    “Yup,” Johnathan replied. “Things’ll get very interesting.”