Dawn wasn’t the one who woke me up in cold sweat. It was that girl again, the one who come and go in dreams, every time showing me more and more. I saw those marks running down in the light, but now I felt I understood them. I saw a mark on her shoulder that I also had, but now I realized it was a shape of an Orbiter, something indistinct to me.
Having no desire to stick around when she-wolf roamed the forest, I climbed down the tree and mounted my horse. It wasn’t long, and there was an army on the road. I stopped and moved aside to let them pass when a galloping rider approached.
“Greetings traveler. On the road for Soyuz 9? It isn’t far. Just a turn away and a few more kilometers down the road.” The guard smiled battling the reins of a steed that wanted to run.
“Aye. Gratitude. Is the Protectorate under attack?” I asked leaned over the saddle and he swung his head over the shoulder.
“No. Such attack would provoke the war of Kingdoms. I see you are not introduced with the local legends and rules. Soyuz 9 is a trading town that bows to no crown. All Kingdoms are following the code of Protectorate cities. We are a safe port for all who flee. We haven’t been conquered, ruled or manipulated by anyone. If one would attack us, he would summon the wrath of all the Realms and suffer grave losses.” The man kept smiling, gasped and scratched little hair he had peaking from his brass helmet. “We are a hunting party. We had words from the surrounding villages that a wraven is being spotted nearby. It killed some of the sheep, so Master of Soyuz ordered it tracked and killed.” He added as the cart with five horses passed us, a cart so big, it was clear that such size was meant for the she-wolf I saw last night.
“I saw her last night. Be cautious, she might have cubs. It can turn vicious if cornered. Mind the forest. She could be followed by a pack. Luckily, males are much smaller than she-bitches.” I grunted, when the guard tipped his helmet and rode off with the others.
Just as he said, I came to a turn and headed downwards where a plain opened before me. There was a sparkly crests of what was Soyuz 9, the shiny metal beams curbed like ribs of a carcasses left in the desert, sticking out from the buildings and houses, clamor of men reverberating in the distance from the glass dome arena. Smoke of the blacksmiths traveled the air, mixing with the sweet scent of black tulips that grew around me.
I paused and recalled the stories of old, the battle and death of the Heretic Army that once plowed through these lands before my time. For a month the battle lasted with no clear victor, for month the arrows flew, the metal clanked, the roar of men boomed, and when both the armies were destroyed, the black tulips blossomed.
It was luck for the Kingdoms skewed the power of Heretics and bought themselves some time, but the new army is assembling behind the icy tops of the Fraghtar Mountains. They are oblivious to what evil lurks behind it, for what is boiling in the pits in the ground, for what hate is sizzling deep in the caves.
Death will come for them in huge metal suits. There is no big of the field to plant the tulips when Heretic Army breaks out from the Fraghtar, spill into the continent and washes the life away from it.