This is the full prologue of to-be Eternal Defenders book one.
Last update: November 2019 (beta 0.8.1)
Disclaimer: What you are reading is beta-stage content and subject to change. Typos and other small issues might be present – and will be fixed in future drafts.
Prologue: Lifetimes at war
Two elves stood at the Memorial Glade, deep within the Sacred Forest, where few could stand. One of them was Kraasian Darkwood, a two-meters-tall muscular male in his prime, twenty-one centuries old. He had his green hair cut short and his dark green eyes gazed at the monolith he knelt in front of. Of the names engraved on it, he came to pay his respects to three of them.
First were Jandiel Darkwood and his wife Ivaria, a pair of exceptional warriors who fought when the demons invaded their world several generations ago. What they learned during the early skirmishes significantly helped the elven army in the coming battles. Rumors were that Jandiel himself fought Rezam, the demon commander leading the first assault, and forced him to retreat. With his friends, Jandiel persuaded the Eternals, beings of myth and power, to bless their descendants so they could walk in their footsteps and defend their lands until the demons were defeated, thus founding the Order of Eternal Defenders.
The third name he came to pay respect to was Maalos Darkwood, Kraasian’s ancestor living five generations ago. During one of his tasks as a warrior, Maalos saved the life of King Emerian Crystelan. Since then, the Darkwood and Crystelan families became unlikely friends. The Darkwoods also offered the Kings of House Crystelan their marital insight – and gained some respect and privileges in return.
“When you told me your wife, Ellisia, gave birth to a boy, I would expect you to come anywhere else but here,” the other elf said. He was a close friend of Kraasian for centuries. His lean figure made him look small next to the bulky warrior – while Ereanel was of average height, he was significantly shorter than Kraasian. He had short hair too but brown in color. What made him stand out were his eyes, the color similar to amethyst, with a bright glow – a proof of his deep connection to magic.
“Sometimes I think that too much happened in the last two centuries, Ereanel,” Kraasian told the mage. Two hundred years ago, Kraasian’s parents rushed ahead to fight a group of powerful demons when Captain Jaimos, leading the defense of the Fourth Gate, was too slow to react. Kraasian and Ereanel went to help them. While they saved the battle, they could not save Kraasian’s father. It took him some to make peace with the loss. He learned much from him in terms of fighting, strategy, and diplomacy. Some bitterness towards Jaimos remained even to this day.
A century after those tragedies, a strange disease swept through the land, killing many. Among the victims were mothers of both Kraasian and Prince Venelaos. The disease also affected Venelaos’ wife and while she overcame it, she was weakened by it ever since. During those trying years, Kraasian and Venelaos grew even closer, their friendship tempered by a shared tragedy. Venelaos’ father, however, found it too much and passed the crown down to Venelaos.
Illeana, Venelaos’ wife and now Queen, needed decades to regain at least some of the strength her body lost. Five years ago, she gave birth to a daughter, Princess Nadyenne. The birth was almost fatal to her still-weakened body. Venelaos, having enough death in his family, decided that he’d not push for a male heir. Now, Kraasian has become a father as well. There would be at least one more generation that would keep the friendship between Crystelan and Darkwood families alive.
“Sometimes I feel like there’s a curse to pay off the strength of my bloodline,” Kraasian said. “For five generations, a Darkwood did not live long enough to know his grandchild.”
“It might be sad, but as long as they live long enough to know their son and raise him, your legacy will live on,” Ereanel said, nodding towards the name of Jandiel inscribed on the stone.
“You’re welcome to visit us at any time. Your wife, Ralisha, will be also welcome.”
“Once she sees your son, she’ll ask when I’ll be willing to become a father,” Ereanel commented. “I can’t imagine how the battlefield would look like with both of us needing to divide our time between our duty and our family, so she’ll need to wait a bit more, a decade or two at least.”
“Ralisha is not a soldier. You’d have it easier because someone could always take care of your child,” Kraasian said. “I guess Ellisia will not fight for at least two seasons. After five centuries fighting side by side, it’ll be very strange to be there without her.”
“So, who else knows about the good news?” Ereanel asked.
“Ellisia sent a letter to her parents a few days before giving birth. They’ll come to visit us soon. I’ll wait a bit before telling the King and General Vigellus; probably long enough for us to make the trip to the palace with him.”
“By the way, what’s your son’s name?”
“We decided to name him Tyr’eshal,” Kraasian answered.
“If he grows up to be half as talented a warrior as you and Ellisia are, I can’t wait to see him in our ranks,” Ereanel said after a while of silence and absent-minded look at the memorial stone. “With my friends, you and Ellisia, and possibly your child; we could do some serious damage to the demons.”
Kraasian once again looked at the stone. “Since Jandiel founded the Order, generations lived and died knowing nothing but this. We’re no closer to ending this struggle than he was.”
“When the demons invaded, thousands of brave soldiers died just in the time they needed to reach the safety of the walls, doing their best to protect civilians. Much more died in the first battles for those gates. The humans lost eighty percent of their population. We lost only thirty because we avoided civilian casualties – and that was only thanks to Selras’ prophecy and because Jandiel was able to make the most of it. We’re replenishing far too slowly with the demons attacking our gates and taking more lives each year.”
“The Eternals believed Jandiel’s bloodline – and that of his friends – held a promise. They blessed him and his descendants, eventually coming down to us, for a reason. The Eternal Defenders are growing stronger with each generation. It is time to see our strength prevail. I don’t want our children to know only the endless war, Ereanel. Together, we will find a way to finally end it.”