Chapter 1: (Part 2) Rise of the Fallen

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Nightfall was a distant memory by the time they left. The girl Theodren admired wasn't even there at their wake. Though he didn't want to admit it, the very person he took interest in would have cared less what became of him.

By horseback, they headed their way to the great barracks and city of Iron Haven. Evening had nearly passed when they arrived. They went quickly; riding through the city streets, avoiding any distractions in their way. They finally approached the army field greeted by the commanders and many of the legion. Those assigned to battle were already suited up, ready for the approaching mission.

In an organized manner, armies were grouped to their assigned commanders and/or generals, classified by their unit type. The field was a large circular shape, with the keep in the center, surrounded by gardens of red flowers, with a blue flag flying in the wind. A black galloping horse was its banner, just as it was for the entire kingdom.

"You're late." The high commander approached them. He was...more than clearly irritated.

"Sorry! Were we meant to do anything important?" Zoran stood anxiously.

"Don't be such a kiss up. He's only two ranks above you." Theodren whispered while giving a disappointed look, crossing his arms.

"You know I can hear you." The man gave an irritated look.

You couldn't miss that face. A tall and awkwardly bulky man: chain mail armor loosely dragged on his limbs, and plate armor chest plate from front, shoulder, and back that was set up in a way to make him seem stronger than he was. He looked as though he was in his fifties, with short and thin spiky brown hair that was receding from his forehead. There were slight wrinkles on his mildly sunburned cheeks and large forehead, as well as bags to his hazel eyes. Despite his success through three separate wars, he stood proudly with unintentional childlike antics. Had it not been for him being so easily distressed based entirely on respect, his head wouldn't be balding.

"Really? Because I actually thought you were deaf. Thinking that you had true talents, but I guess I was wrong." Theodren grinned obnoxiously while Zoran remained uncomfortable, worried of a negative outcome.

"Trying to sound tough, huh?" He continued holding in his anger.

"Maybe, but at least I have dignity. Unlike you, I don't waste my time being the king's 'desire slave'." Theodren gave a confident gaze.

"Rrrr...get in line!" He growled. "The army has spent long enough waiting for two children with absolutely no respect for higher ranks!" The man's forehead started to sweat in anger, his pale nose turned bright red.

"Yeah-yeah. More interesting lecturing units than listening to an old man babble about his unnecessary grudge. Good day." Theodren started to walk away. Zoran followed, attempting with abundant focus to hide the grin granted from his brother's wit.

The man was furious! His pale skin became red, wrinkles quickly defining themselves from cheek to forehead. He quickly turned towards them while standing in front of soldiers gathering for departure. He was near the keep, a well built sanctuary able to house a hundred nobles.

It stood high, even for the mountain pass behind it. It took a distance for one to see its top when looking up. Its arched stone pillars, flying buttresses lifting the roof. There were well maintained and reasonable rooms of stone carpeted with a floor mat of brown cloth, and a candle lit nightstand with a linen cloth bed woven with loose fur inside its stitching.

"Your disrespect will be well met! Next time we meet, I'll be twice as high in ranking than you! Maybe then I can place your head on the tip of my spear!" He shouted with demand as they just casually walked on. Zoran held in his laughter while Theodren just smiled, completely determined to outwit his greater.

"Don't you see, Armand Malrick? We are the king's pupils. He favors us above all others; like his beloved sons or close friends. The only reason we're below you is simply by experience. It won't be long before we go beyond your rank." Theodren looked back, face calm and confident.

"You will fall one day! During your rise of power, all hope will turn against you!"

"Alright, old man. I think it's better you quit wasting your time giving a show to your men."

The soldiers laughed at him. His face turned red once more in his fury.

Not long after, two thousand troops, along with many commanding officers, organized separately while quickly heading towards their given task. They set up camp by nightfall, with the tacticians planning out the attack while shaded under the roof of the main tent.

The border to Paldaron was likely thirty miles west from them, with the main river that connected much of the trade between Lorlyn and Paldaron, shone in the evening light. The land was hilly, with small ridges in various locations, while a rare find the further away from the mountains one would tread. During the summer, the grass was as tall as a child, sometimes beyond the height of horses. Its green blades, while looking well established from afar, were angled in an undetermined stance. Some would faint to the right, others to the left, some looking away and others aiming their blade towards the viewer. They were certainly less stable than their appearance demanded, and would bend with minor effort, though they wouldn't break without strong pulls or by a sickle.

"Alright men. It is clear that every fortress and encampment across the enemy's claimed land has been conquered, yet one still remains." Zoran began, the other commanders focused on his input. "There rests Tyrus at the border to Paldaron. It stands atop what is called 'Burned Hill', a large flattened hill with a natural moat where grass simply won't grow."

A short pause kept the men discussing among each other.

"Their last leader guides the remaining army. Bargains were attempted to end the war, but he chose to remain stubborn." Zoran pointed to the paper, a short chuckle by the other members at his last remark. "The siege will begin at nightfall, when the moon meets its peak upon the darkened sky. Your generals will decide what your contributions uphold, so until then may death face you as a friend, and to them what fear it brings."

With that, the commanders left the tent with hope in their hearts and a skip in their step. Theodren didn't speak a word, by Zoran's request. He was a tactician after all, and Theodren was far too infamous to his superiors to be taken seriously. If anything else was to keep a secluded peasant with as much respect as the royals that surrounded him, it was that talent.

The army consisted of King Derek's vassals, and their soldiers by his request. It was decreed a week before the brothers reached Iron Haven that they and their best men would arrive with due haste. Zoran was one of the many tacticians there, and by sunset all had been made known; they were off.

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