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       The Kingdom through the Swamp: The Courts Divided - Book 1, p.1

           Kell Inkston
 
The Kingdom through the Swamp: The Courts Divided - Book 1


  The Kingdom through the Swamp

  By Kell Inkston

  Copyright 2014-2016 by Kell Inkston. All rights reserved.

  Cover by Humble Nations (goonwrite.com)

  Hi, it’s worth putting to your consideration that this is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, overlords, or necromancers, living or dead, businesses, events, locales or otherwise is purely coincidental. Any resemblance to reality should be taken with a serious pinch of salt. I mean really.

  Oh, also, reproduction in whole or part of this publication without express written consent is quite prohibited. The author greatly appreciates you taking the time to read this work.

  Thank you so much for your support and enjoy the story.

  CHAPTER ONE: A WORLD CLOSE TOGETHER

  We look down on a far off war camp in the north, a raging blizzard blowing through the encampment with merciless vigor.

  A soldier bursts into a warm tent, and our story begins. "Mam, the Eastern Force is making an advance!" One of the leaders of the Northern Front assault, Lord Knight General Order, rises up from her chair, red-faced and wavering.

  "You mean to say they're coming here?" she says, massaging her temples as she takes one last glance at her glass of blackwater forty.

  "Yes, mam! Please do something!"

  She rubs the wear from her eyes. "What about the other mages?"

  "They're either out of mana or reassigned to the counter-espionage operation. Besides, we'd need fifty of them to do what you could alone!"

  "It has to be me, then?"

  "Yes, mam. Don't you remember when you gave your orders?" Order looks to the side, immersed in thought for a moment.

  "Can't say I remember," she says. The officer pauses in front of his official and looks over her reddened face and short figure, carelessly slouched.

  "...You're drunk, General?"

  "I wouldn't say 'drunk' so much as 'under the effects of a’… Yeah I’m drunk,” she says with a snide grin.

  "Mam, this is serious, they'll be here in minutes. They've already crossed the valley and they're on their way up!"

  Order's quiet a moment and then sighs.

  "Alright. I'll take care of this," she says before passing the guard and exiting the tent. Immediately she is bitten by the star-white winds of the North, chilling her, but ineffective in causing her to shiver. The white-haired and young-looking lady with millennia of age under her belt strides across the camp, sparing quick glances to the masses of terrified soldiers and magicians rushing about and forming ranks. She moves past all of them to the rim of the camp and looks down the steep, snow-clad hill towards the enemy camp.

  Down about a hundred meters and climbing up quickly are about four hundred Easterners, cozy in their long wool uniforms and confident with those strange, metallic "fire-arms" slung over their shoulders. The front rank of men spots Order, clothed in but a simple set of winter wear, and the call is sent for the others to prepare the rifles in that peculiar military code that she has long memorized by now. The Lord Knight General stares at the battalion of men struggling up the mountain for only a moment more, and then moves in to thwart them.

  With the fluttering grace of a butterfly, she raises her hand, speaks a few words, and then moves her finger across her vision of the men.

  Suddenly, a squad of snowballs forms on the edge of the hill and begins rolling down towards the enemy force. The orbs of white fluff gain size and weight as they tumble towards their targets, becoming formidable boulders of ice in seconds. Order watches with an amused look as the small dots of brown down the hill scatter and retreat, the massive snow-boulders smashing through their ranks. In another moment she begins moving her hands as if shaping clay, all while speaking in a second arcane language. Just as the exhausted group of riflemen restart their assault, the boulders of snow form arms and legs and begin ramming into and toppling the soldiers as if they were blades of grass. The soldiers open fire on the titans of snow, each bullet hitting their mark, but not a single one slowing their targets. A single soldier aims high and shoots for her. To the soldier’s horror, the bullet stops mid-flight just a meter from her and drops innocently on the ground; such is expected of The White Witch Queen of the West, Knight Order.

  She smacks her lips tiredly as she watches the men below, blasted away from the strength of the golems that she had created. She really wishes she’d brought her glass of blackwater with her.

  Only a minute passes of the Easterners battling the golems, and then the tide turns for good. The soldiers, some with broken limbs and concussions, run, limp, or are carried away back to their camp. Order nods, playing a victorious tune in her head as she severs the magical link between herself and the golems, reducing them to innocent piles of snow once more. Behind her, several soldiers and camp-folk cheer at the might of the second-in-command of the Royal Knights.

  She rises to her feet and starts back to camp, eager to finish her beloved libation, and is only a few steps away when her path is intercepted by a frazzled-looking messenger.

  "Mam! Lord Knight Captain Redemption's over the com-stone!" the boy says, presenting Order with the large red crystal. Order nods, says "thanks," and then raises the gem to her lips.

  "Daniel?" Order says into the rock, causing it to glow in response to her voice.

  "Ranalie, good to hear you," comes a voice from the magic stone, belonging to none other than the Lord Knight Captain himself.

  "What do you need?" Order asks.

  "I have an urgent assignment that needs taking care of."

  "I thought I was supposed to keep the Easterners from adva-"

  "Yes, and now Knight Generosity will be handling that."

  She raises a slim, snow-white brow. "Alright, guess this has gotta be pretty damn important for you to be calling me up of all people," Order says, her slurred speech ringing through the stone. Redemption is quiet a moment before responding.

  "...Something seems off with you. Have you been drinking again?" Redemption asks.

  Order pauses as she thinks of her response- it’ll have to be something concise, powerful, and effective. She draws from the deepest well of her inner self, and replies with what could only be pure perfection.

  "Maybe," she says.

  "Dear, think of your image." His tone is concerned, but firm.

  "What image?" she says with a laugh.

  "You and I are considered legendary heroes, obviously, and people get weirded out when they see a seven-thousand year old archmage drinking for kicks."

  "And what's the problem with drinking for kicks?"

  "You... nevermind. Get back to HQ for your new assignment. It's something only you can do."

  "If you say so."

  "I do. Now come quickly, please!"

  "Got it," she says before the glow of the stone dies out, signifying the person on the other line has severed his mana-link to his shard of the gem.

  Order hands the stone back to the messenger and returns to the commander’s tent to find her dog, Parvo, has licked clean her glass of blackwater. She gathers her armor, a shining white mithril plate-suit enchanted to resist anything from a mere Eastern bullet to a tower falling on her. A few minutes later, she’s suited up and ready for whatever catastrophe Knight Redemption can throw at her. Finally she grasps the dimensional sheath of her legendary sword, called “Monument” by most who know it. Now prepared, her mind begins simmering on the possible mission Redemption could have for her as she pats Parvo goodbye, exits her tent, and makes her way to the summoning tent across camp.

  'Could it be Chaos? Maybe he's attacking a capit
al city... or maybe The Trench has burst open to declare war on us. Have the old dragons returned, or the titans?' she wonders, eager to know what cataclysm she'll face. Whatever it is, it must be a major threat to the Western Kingdoms.

  She gets to the summoning tent, tells the magicians her destination, and waits a few minutes for them to compose the summoning circle leading to the Royal Knights Headquarters- a complex ordeal involving chanting, arcane scripting, and lots and lots of candles. A portal tears right through the fabric of reality, and Order steps into traverse thousands of miles in a matter of seconds.

 
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