Hey Guys, been awhile, still haven't finished editing that last book. I just got done idea cramming in my notebook for a different book; This time I have a plan and I'm going to let you in on it. Here goes; Quintessa, a land blessed with both beauty and fortune. A country that has never lost a war, or ever had famine. The people are content and the food is plentiful. It might be the best place to live on the entire continent. That though, is the problem. For three hundred years the land has known peace, but now old enemies begin to edge closer, waiting for the moment to strike. Guided by prophecy and ancient ritual, Quintessa braces for the coming war. For a young guardsman, saving his country is going to take a lot more than winning a simple battle. He must first untwine and understand the kingdom's dark history before he can hope to save his people Everything, all of the war and suffering, it was her fault. The people cursed her very name for the malady that befallen her beloved country. The blood of innocents surged like win overflowing the rim of its goblet. It ran through her hands and in-between her fingers, staining them a scarlet red. It was her fault. Then again it wasn’t. Maline was keenly aware of who she was and who she wasn’t. She was no queen, no failed monarch to her people. She was a simple merchant’s daughter, but why then did she feel like she was responsible? Despite the urge to look away, she stared on in silence. She felt the cool wind brush against her pale skin, the blades of grass caressing her bare legs. The wind picked up for a moment, tossing her golden curls behind her, giving her an unhindered view to the grounds at the base of her gently rolling hill. She waited patiently, she knew in mere moments the scene would unfold before her eyes. The sun began to creep over the horizon, its first rays of light streaking across the sky in a deep red. The great orb of light rose swiftly, as if leaping from its resting place. As it finally cleared the distant mountains on the horizon, the sky itself twisted and shuddered, quickly forming massive clouds to block the sun from the world below. As quickly as the soon had shed light on the country, the opaque clouds swallowed it up, leaving only the dull grey of an overcast day, but it quickly grew dark despite the hour. An unnatural settled on the land, surrendering her home to the grips of night once more. The skies then opened up and rain poured from the clouds. The rain did not hesitate and quickly brewed itself into a powerful storm. Thunder sounded, accompanied by flashes of lightning. Once a mighty bolt shot through the air, it would reveal the image below. Reflecting the light from every strike was armor and shield of a thousand men. Maline blinked several times trying to adjust her eyes. The men had arrived on the wings of thunder, appearing amidst the booming sound that followed the flashes of lightning. They occupied the entirety of the plains before the mighty city. Every hill, every rock, and every depression held up another member of this legion. They moved as one, crashing like water against rock. The high stone walls of the city held and the cullis gate held shut, but somewhere deep within the city, a fire broke out and quickly raged out of control. The rain immediately ceased as if cowering beneath the might of the flame. She watched as the scene became a swirl of colors and emotions. Maline watched as brave defenders stood against impossible odds and fell before the mass of men. The attackers each wore a tabard over there armor, a deep velvet color. That was the only uniformity amongst them though. They carried a variety of weapons and their looked to be looted from fallen enemies rather than standard issue. Each had a scratchy beard of varying lengths and each had matted hair that had never seen any more water than what happened to had fallen on their heads. They were dirt covered and filthy, both in stench and in manner. They cursed with every strike, butchering the defenders in what seemed a brutal manner. The defenders quickly found themselves being put on spears, or hung from battlements, their blood soaked tabards no longer cotton-white. The scene shifted once more and all of the men had poured into the city, now chasing after the women and children that ran to and fro. Maline watched from just above them, as if she were standing on their shoulders. They did not distinguish between adults and children, cutting them down as quickly as possible. They did distinguish between young boys and girls. The boys were rarely killed and if so, as an after though, the men made a purpose though, to slaughter every girl they found. They weren’t marauding, they were hunting. The men swept up the cobbled streets almost as quickly as the flame. She looked up toward the Courtyard of her Majesty and saw that it too was burning. The city itself was in two parts, the lower half that acted as the gate, and then the upper half which stood at a considerably higher elevation. The men all raced towards it, running up the sloping streets. At first the slop was gentle, but quickly it steepened to the point the charge had slowed to a near walk. Then the attackers met the stairway. They wasted no time in ascending the stairs, moving by leaps and bounds overall 300 steps. Maline was pushed to near tears as she silently floated above them. The trees that lined the path were already scorched by flame. They were as majestic as they were mighty, the towering oaks that had still there for hundreds of years were now being burned to the ground. Over all of the shouts and cursing, she could hear as the wood beneath the bark creaked and whined as the flames weakened the trees. It sounded to her as if they were crying out just before their untimely end. Once indomitable in nature, they fell backward into a heap of broken branched and burning embers. She looked back forward and saw that she and the men had almost reached the top of the stone staircase. The stairs were wide enough to permit two dozen men to move at once, allowing them to pour into the courtyard like a flood of water. Before the first three waves were able to stand atop the plateau, they stopped. Maline felt herself being dragged forward. Maybe half of a hundred men stood quietly at the edge of the staircase. She scanned their faces, each had a look of exhaustion, bloodlust and confusion. She looked up to match their gaze and felt mouth open of its own accord. The courtyard itself was a thing of beauty, with a lone building on the far side of it. It looked to be a religious building, like a one room church constructed out of ornate marble. The ground was made of the same marble, making it seem as if the building had simply just stretched out of the ground. Behind the building she could see hundreds of people running way. They were refugees in their own homes. That though, was not what gave the men pause. In the center of the courtyard stood a hundred soldiers, all quietly watching the attackers. They stood as one, a massive wall to hold back the inevitable tide of the invaders. Orders were being shouted, but they fell beneath the din of the war cries of attacks still on the stairs. She stared in awe as none of the defenders even flinched, despite the massive roar that rolled up from the city below. The men all wore a red tabard. Etched in what appeared to be green jewels, she could make out a mighty oak on their chest whose roots twisted into a shield. Each wore a black cape that tossed in the wind behind, and that too had the oak and shield, but etched in simple cotton. They were the Guardians, these were the legendary warriors known as the Guardians of her Majesty Some of the men wore helmets and some did not. The ones that did have helms however bore no similarity between any two. Their weapons were all different, from noble swords, wickedly curved axes and powerful maces. Their armor though, was all the same, thick plate that hugged their bodies closely. Fire danced across the reflective surface, giving all of them a red and orange hue. They looked to have come from all corners of the kingdom, some darker, some lighter, as well as varying in size from tall and burly to short and lean. Their leader stood in the center with his sword in hand. His face bore numerous scars, and his eyes gave evidence to the many battles he had been party to. As she studied him for a moment she heard the slamming of a heavy door. She looked up to see a monk in a brown robe hurriedly take away a crying babe, wrapped in simple white cloth stained with blood. Before she had a chance to study the scene, the men below her let loose another mighty roar and charged. The Guardians stood fast as the marauders approached. Several of their weapons came up in defense against the charge, but most did not even shudder. The leader shouted for them to stand fast, but once more his voice was drowned out by the din of the approaching battle. They were no more than a dozen paces away when the clouds parted. In a final act of rebellion, the sun shone brightly through the sky. It had already traveled to its new resting place on the horizon to the west and had begun to sink below the ridge line. The light gave the attackers pause for only a moment and they continued to close the gap. Only a handful of paces away now, the longest spears could have struck, but still the guardians did not move. Then a sudden piercing cry erupted from the small church. The shrill noise ending abruptly as it had come. As if on cue, the Guardians became a flurry of action. The attackers were cut down where they stood, most not even having the chance to defend themselves. The Guardians quickly whittled down the forces in the courtyard and pressed the enemy to the stairway. There they stood, cutting down the attackers that tried to press their way up. Maline looked over the edge and saw a thousand more men trying to squeeze onto the stairs. Despite the Guardians bravery, she did not think they could hold back such a force, but they showed no sign of slowing, cutting down their foes in rapid succession. They did not descend the stairway, but simply stood on its edge. Order came up for crossbows and the attackers at the bottom of the stairway fired a volley. Nearly a hundred bolts sailed upward, but the wind suddenly picked up once more, making the bolts fall short into either empty space or into the backs of their fellows. They fired once more and once again the wind knocked the projectiles down. Rain poured down once more, washing the bodies and blood down the stairs. Slick with rain and the blood of the fallen, men began to trip and fall in their charged. The ones that slipped were immediately crushed by the others around them. The oaks had stopped burning, but the fires below were still raging despite the rain. The wind picked up once more and flame leapt from the houses and shops onto the men that had dared to stand too close. With the Guardians at their front, standing in a river of blood, and screams from their burning countrymen, the army began to rout, fleeing in a disorganized manner anywhere they could. Maline wanted to cheer, but as she turned around, she could see the Guardian’s leader had a grim expression on his face. Amongst the sweat and rain that trickled over his face, she though she saw a lone tear curve along his pronounced cheeks. She stared into his dark eyes that hid beneath the black hair plastered to his face by the rain. She wanted to reach out to him, to find out why he was upset, but as she did, he faded away along with the rest of the scene. All she saw was her own outstretched hand and the wooden roof of her room.