Book one: prologue

This is the full prologue of to-be Eternal Defenders book one.

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 silently at the Memorial Glade, deep within the Sacred Forest, where few could stand. One of them was Kraasian Darkwood, muscular male in his prime, twenty-one centuries old. Kraasian was over two meters tall, fighting with the sheer strength his body mass provided. He had his green hair cut short and his dark green eyes gazed at the monolith in front of him. Several names were engraved on it, but 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. What they learned during the early skirmishes significantly helped the elven army in the coming battles. With their friends, they 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. That happened several generations ago.

Among the many elves listed on the stone was one more name: a warrior who lived half-way between Jandiel and Kraasian, named Maalos Darkwood. Like Jandiel, he was Kraasian’s ancestor, though he became known differently. While he was a great warrior like the most of Darkwood bloodline, his most famous feat happened some distance from the battlefield when he was escorting King Emerian Crystelan and saved his life from an ambush prepared by a group of thieves.

Since then, Darkwood and Crystelan families became friends like no other, one being nobles and the other warriors. The Darkwoods gained more respect through this, offering their experience as advice to the King and those leading the army.

“I would expect you to come anywhere else but here,” the other elf said. His figure lacked any hint of muscle. Compared to Kraasian, he was significantly shorter, despite being of average height. He had short hair too but in brown color. The two have been close friends for centuries. A warrior and a mage, their different skill sets complemented each other on the battlefields.

“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 some time for Kraasian 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.

Another century later, a strange disease swept through the land, eventually claiming Kraasian’s mother, leaving him only with his friends and his wife Ellisia. He was not the only one who experienced tragedy in these years. The same disease killed the Queen. Prince Venelaos’ wife survived just barely. Too struck by the tragedy, the King passed the crown down to Venelaos and was rarely seen in public ever since.

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 any time and feel free to take Ralisha with you.”

“Once she’ll see 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 children,” 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,” he said. “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.”

“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 two, 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, tens of generations lived and died knowing nothing but this. We’re no closer to ending this struggle than he was.”

“Humans lost eighty percent of their population,” Ereanel said. “We lost only thirty because we avoided civilian casualties. All of that was in a few months. We’re replenishing far too slowly with the demons attacking our gates and taking more lives each year.”

“At least the Order is getting stronger with each generation,” Kraasian said. “I don’t want our children to know only the endless war, Ereanel. Together, we will find a way to finally end it.”

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