Percival Anderpold II eyed with a nonchalance befitting dead men the force amassing across the river. Rumours had hinted at the ambitions of Yanderlar’s fresh-faced king; They told of skirmishes in the East and sackings further North along the Divinus mountains that demonstrated a demonic capacity for destruction. They said he would be the king to conquer all kings and that once he’d fulfilled his fate he would take his leave in the divine from whence he came.

Percival scoffed. 62 years had dragged many a fantasist out of the dirt and into his ear, and for most his preference was to put them back in it. Tales held no purpose for him, other than to weaken cowardly men. He’d been told that the fortress he protected had nestled under cover of mountain and forest since the first great king of the Vamda. The Dandarofus river lie as shield while those manning the castle watched the great plains beyond, vigilant and unified under the banner of peace in the realm. Trontius’ men appeared much too close to threatening that peace.

“Oi. Percy.” The gruff holler could only have been spoken by Percival’s chief general, Andermere the Malignant.

“Anders,” Percival turned and gestured a casual greeting towards his confidante, “tell me what you know.” Andermere’s stature was that of a goliath. Looking into his eyes was akin to looking up at the clouds, though if the feat were managed, Percival mused, their contents could rot a man from the inside out. His head was the perfect size for use as catapult ammunition – though in life it was much too bulbous to be an accurate shot – while his nose had a weight and sharpness that bred legends it was able to cut through stone.

“The Yanderlar scum have 700 over the banks. I dunno what they want, but they’re mobilised for a fight.” Andermere’s mouth curled up the prospect, revealing a plethora of savage teeth. “I have heard that the Forestry are noticing a build up outside the Pindica too.”

Percival chuckled with a soft ease, “nonsense, not a Yanderlarian fruit fly has crossed this border unnoticed.” The sentence worked against its speaker, prompting Percival to reach for the nearest wood; He clutched a basket of arrows at his feet. “Besides, we are a defence defended by the greatest our Earth can provide. Tell me the number of times we have faced greater odds together and emerged victorious.”

“I lost count an age ago brother, though that will not shield us should the reports prove true.”

“Indeed. Have word sent to the Forestry that they are to mobilise immediately. And find me some reliable information on this ‘gathering’ outside the Pindica.” Andermere inclined his head and headed off in the direction of the Forestry, shattering the ground beneath his feet as he went.

Percival turned to face the landscape that concealed Fendemy from the rest of its country. He often mused that it would be an artisans paradise. The Dandarofus in the East was deep enough to run supply runs via ship and the water, though muddy, was both calm and clean enough to bathe during the summer months. In the North, barely two miles away, stood the Divinus mountains. Impassable, and the greatest of nature’s defenders, its inhabitants were a subtle shade of orange that appeared to glow at sunset while its predominantly clouded peaks were said to seat the divine of our realm, who fed the Dandarofus in exchange for the worship of their names.

In legend, it was they also who planted the Pindica surrounding Fendemy on its side of the river. Pines were the single tree that flourished, though Percival could not account for seeing any tree grow, fall or die at any time during his seven year premiership at the fortress. What was more, the scientifically inclined had discovered long ago that each tree commanded its own equal space and held identical features. He understood that as affirmation of the existence of divinity, though the thought made him tremble. His mind flicked back to the rumours and the memory brought his focus again to the force amassing across the river, clad in midnight blue with a golden trim, and armed for war. Percival studied the formation for a second and left his perch, easing his way down the ladder that separated the viewpoint from his study and striding out the door to meet Andermere for his report.

The air flowed sweet in the open. Constant winds flowing from the mountains combined with the musk of pine and the cool of the Dandarofus to brew an air even the Gods would appreciate. Percival’s study sat in the upper-most tower on the North-East corner of Fendemy. On his journey to the War Room he first would take four flights of cagey, splintered, staircase to reach the ground floor, followed by a brisk walk across the courtyard littered with disordered stalls providing various services to the soldiers stationed here. Percival would have to weave between them, such was the complete chaos of their layout, whilst swatting over-zealous merchants and saluting the comrades he passed on his way.

As he reached the far side of the courtyard, he entered the door labelled ‘Command’ and headed down the dimly lit corridor until he came face to face with the War Room, raising his fist to rap on the door as he approached.

On the moment of his first knock, he was thrown to his face. Fendemy had quaked with the impact of an inhuman force. Screams of belligerence and terror were audible side by side and Percival became showered in a thick coat of dusty rubble. Another almighty slam told the commander that a tower of the fortress had collapsed. He was frozen in the moment, languishing on the floor until Andermere stormed from the War Room, halberd in hand.

“Get the fuck up Percy. Trontius is testing us.”

Written by RJP

Freelance writer of fiction (poetry, short stories and - one day - novels) and non-fiction articles. To date, the majority of work on display has been random items of practice that seek to test the limits of imagination whilst attempting to weave various ideas on society and the pursuit of understanding in as cryptic a manner as possible. Stay tuned.

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