Many years ago, the Gods gathered their might and created the world. This world consisted of one gigantic landmass, the borders of which were sealed off by their will. The will of the Gods traveled throughout the land, creating lakes, rivers, forests, valleys, deserts, tundra, and mountains. Once this world was carved out before them, the Gods created life to inhabit it. Among the countless life forms built to roam the land, the one that rose above the rest was Humanity. They fashioned tools, created towns, roads, and many works of art. Humanity prospered in this world. The Gods were exhausted from the work they had done to bring everything to life. After great deliberation, the Gods decided that Humanity was worthy enough to inherit the mantle of responsibility that they carried. One fateful day, the Heavens cried from above, raining down crystals of blue, red, green, yellow, white, and black. These crystals were made of Ethrium, the essence of the Gods. Their mantle passed on, the Gods entered a deep slumber. Ethrium became one with the earth itself and all of its life. Over time, fantastic creatures were found wandering the world, and generations of Humans who could harness the power of the crystals were born. Used as a power source, Ethrium allowed Humanity to erect many awesome cities and mighty fortresses. This was Humanity’s golden age of peace and prosperity. Unfortunately, as is the nature of all things, it would not last. No one knows what started the Great Ethrium War, but it nearly tore the world to pieces. Dozens of factions arose and tens of thousands of Ethrium Wielders were killed. As a result, many of the crystals embedded within the planet withered and died. Humanity had lost its gift and many of its Ethrium based wonders. Great cities fell into disrepair and fortresses were abandoned. Desperate and broken, Humanity united under a single Monarchy and the war ended with no true victor. Generations passed as Humanity carried on without the power of Ethrium to fuel their way of life. There were some who believed their gift would return if they appealed to the Gods, but they received no answers. One day though, a miracle happened. The King’s Wife gave birth to six children. All of them were girls and all of them wielded the power of Ethrium. The Kingdom rejoiced as their faith in the Gods was renewed. It is said that the King received thousands of suitors for his daughters, with many families desperate to bring an Ethrium Wielder into their family line. The King, protective over his girls, soon allowed protectiveness to turn into paranoia. He turned away all suitors, even those belonging to noble families he long considered allies. Allegiances were shattered and rebellion arose, with many furious that the King would hoard such a gift. By keeping his daughters away from the rest of the world, he easily brainwashed them into doing his bidding. These six girls used their power to kill thousands and enslave even more. It was not long before the rebellion was crushed and the King’s rule was made absolute. None dared oppose him. Still, the paranoia ate away at him to the point where he no longer trusted the kin he used to achieve victory. Working behind their backs, one by one he betrayed his children, creating horrific devices that subdued them and harnessed their power. Six towers were built around the world to house the girls, with a seventh built in the center of the land to house the King himself. All threats finally neutralized, the King ruled a land of frightened people and shattered spirits. The cause for what happened next is speculated by many but known by none. Some say the King tried to pierce the veil that bordered the world. Others say that he attempted to enter the Heavens. All that is known for certain is that one day the King woke the Gods. Furious with what they saw, they used all of their might to punish Humanity for their sins. Most of Humanity was wiped out and the world split into four pieces. As the continents drifted apart, the Gods created a vast ocean to fill the void between them. The veil was stretched out to the point that no Human could ever reach it. Humanity, though forever connected to Ethrium, had its link severely weakened, ensuring that it could be never be used for such terrible purposes ever again. Once again, the Gods slept. Many years have passed since that time, and there are none left alive who lived it. Though there are some who still study Ethrium and are capable of wielding it to a minor extent, it is considered taboo in most societies, a reminder of Humanity’s greatest sin. However, there are still those who believe that the Age of Ethrium will come again… _____________________________________________________________________________ In the southernmost continent of Ackria, there are two Kingdoms: Rominus in the West and Aradesh in the East. Divided by a massive mountain range and a small desert pass in the South, these two kingdoms lived in relative peace until now. King Bryson Endell of Rominus has assembled a mighty host to invade the eastern kingdom. The invasion was so sudden that a great deal of territory was taken before Aradesh even had a chance to retaliate. By the time they did, the armies of Rominus were ready, and the Defenders’ host was shattered in a bloody battle. Now the armies of Rominus march north toward the enemy’s Capital. Though slowed by guerrilla fighters and stragglers from the royal host, there is little to stop them from total victory. Still, Aradesh refuses to surrender, ready to fight to the last man if that’s what it takes. This story begins in a humble yet prosperous Aradesh town overlooked by a keep, just east of where this crushing battle took place. Bordered mostly by forest with only a single road travelling through it, the town of Greenleaf has never known war until now. Tyrious Westmore is the second son to Lord Tygan Westmore. Tygan is the Commander of all Rominus’ invading forces and is directly responsible for the campaign’s resounding success. Tyrious is a skilled warrior, but he is constantly overshadowed by his older brother. Greenleaf, now under the official rule of Rominus, requires new management. Deciding it’s time his son learns real responsibility, Tygan leaves Tyrious in charge of Greenleaf and begins the march north. With a bitter populace to manage and a forest full of freedom fighters to break, he’ll have more than his fair share of responsibilities. But this is just the beginning of his journey, and yours. Who will you be? _____________________________________________________________________________ Dozens of plumes of black smoke were rising into the air. That's all I could focus on. Along with the smell of burning flesh that accompanied them. Early this morning we had struck the final blow to our enemy's main host. Our scouts caught them moving through a relatively unknown forest path in an attempt to launch a counterattack at our army's flank. We were too quick, however, and our vanguard laid out an ambush. The battle itself was quick and bloody. My father led the attack, striking right at their center in a bold display. Once they realized what was happening and were able to organize a defense, my brother rode into their flank with the full might of our cavalry. They were trapped and slaughtered. I caught the tail end of the battle, riding in with a small retinue to cut down any stragglers. We spent the rest of the morning piling the corpses and burning them. And it's all I can think about. "You'll have a retinue of three hundred men under your command. Your 'companions' may stay with you as well. I expect things to run smoothly in my absence. No mistakes, do you understand?" "Yes Father." I reply absentmindedly. "What's the first thing you'll do once I leave?" He asks, testing me to see if I've listened. "Gather the townspeople for them to witness their leader swear fealty to myself and the Crown." I explain. He nods in approval as we climb down from the battlements. This town is home to a small keep, which I imagine was used for the rest and resupply of military forces due to how well stocked we found it. Father believes it will serve as a good base of operations. When we reach the courtyard, Father walks to the stables and mounts his horse before coming back to me. "If the situation changes, I'll send a bird with your orders. Otherwise you will hold this post under any and all circumstances. Do not disappoint me." "I won't, Father." He nods again as he and his knights ride to the gate. Along the way they pass my brother, who rides in on his white charger. He says a short word to our father and then comes to me, dismounting his steed and throwing his armored hand over my shoulder. I smile timidly as he tussles my bright blonde hair. "My baby brother leading his first command!" He states proudly. "My big brother going off to win all the glory while I stay in a spot where Father doesn't have to think about me." I retort. "You mustn't think of it like that." "But it is like that." I frown. "Well, yes, but you have to prove yourself to be more than what he thinks." He encourages me. "How am I to prove myself when he won't even give me the opportunity?" "You know Father. He's not going to just hand things to you, baby brother. You have to find the opportunity and seize it!" He makes a dramatic motion of grasping an object with his hand. He can see I'm not entirely convinced, so he pats me on the back. "You'll figure it out. I know you will." I look at him with great skepticism, so he continues. "And look at it this way; if you fail, Father will put you somewhere so far away that you'll never even have to see him again!" I smile. "You always know how to inspire me, Tyrael." He smirks. "That's what I'm here for." He leans in and kisses my forehead. "Just be safe, baby brother." I nod and watch as he returns to his horse and rides off to join father. He doesn't look back, but I keep my gaze locked on him until he's out of sight. Once he's gone, I climb the battlements and watch as my father's forces leave the town. An eerie quietness overtakes my surroundings. A soldier approaches me. "Your orders, Lord Westmore?" "Gather the townspeople in front of the keep."