And so it begins as most things do, with a decision that will alter far more than was intended.

 

Some say that the goal of war is peace. They say that you have to fight to keep your enemies away. That you can right wrongs by burning away the injustices you perceive. Those same people are often the ones that sit inside halls plotting and planning, calculating exactly how much loss is acceptable while those outside bleed. They move figures around on a battlefield like pieces in a game while brave men and women die without grace for a cause not their own. They wouldn't know peace anymore than they would know satisfaction.

The small town of Ketterington once sat quietly in the low foothills and rolling fields of Southern Adra. Its people toiling away the days in mines and forests, over hearths, in barns, and under the bliss of just law. The people of the town knew warmth and joy. They knew the love of family and friends as well as the hardships of life on the outskirts of the Kingdom. Rumors always reached them first from other lands as they were on the edge, near the wild lands of the South East of the Kingdom. Rumors were usually nothing more than that, just idle talk and gossip. But when rumors of marauders first reached the town, only few felt a stab of fear, most went on without a care. There had not been anything outside the occasionally criminal to worry about in as long as anyone could remember. Even the wild lands seemed less wild these days.

The first of the Blackclad came into view just past midday. He was following the road and while regular traffic into and out of the Kingdom passed this way, he seemed to stand out. The Kokori rarely used the Blackclad for caravan guards with a notable exception being personal envoy to diplomatic engagements. So the scout rode on into town and took stock of the place. He rode up and down the three small roads that split the town fairly evenly and was soon riding back. A few took notice and one young boy was curious enough to follow him back up the hill. The sounds of him screaming as he ran back down the hill towards town ended abruptly as those in view watched him fall, an arrow buried deeply in his back. 

What happened next is a blur to most as the Blackclad poured over the hill. Able men and women tried to make a stand, tried to fight back, but they just kept coming. In minutes the town was in chaos and overran, but some fought on not fully understanding that what crested the hill was only the tip of the spear. In the end there were just too many. The town was taken inside an hour and the toll was steep. You were one of the ones that lived but it was a brutal existence for the next six weeks. When the Blackclad fell back, they did so very quickly not bothering to release or kill those they had taken prisoner. They just left you in the chains that bound so many of the townsfolk together. 

The war has ended, and nothing feels like it did before. The town was almost burned entirely and the smell of smoke still lingers around midday. Some places still have blood specs and stains in the wood and cloth. With so many friends and loved ones lost it's hard to feel like the Kingdom won. What was it for? Why did the west ally with each other after more than 60 years of turmoil and border skirmishes and why would that alliance immediately target Adra, arguably the least aggressive and most amicable trade partner inside a thousands miles.

Now with the town holding on by the thread, the last of the life lines that are being thrown out by passing traders has begun to disappear because some among you are seeking revenge for their losses on those that pass through. There have been four traders and two travelers from the south killed in the last three weeks. Things are on the verge of collapse as people are struggling to maintain hope that the town will recover. Then a bloody scream pierces the crisp spring morning and wakes you well before the sun is up.

What was lost...

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