Far to the east of Rising there was a certain city, its name was Tella. It was an average city, filled with bustle and noise. A moderately sized castle where the governor lived occupied the center. Fields of wheat and rice and many other delicious foodstuffs had their own areas within the walls of Tella. The marketplace was always bustling, and many merchants that were travelling both east and west had arrived at Tella to pawn their goods.
A certain young boy, a felis, was the son of one of these merchants. While his father sold a bit of spice, he ran out and around the city to find other young children to play with.
He met a group of kids by the eastern wall. They were playing kickball and were very happy to have someone new to play with. After introducing himself, he got right to work. The ball had just been kicked out of bounds, so the team the boy just joined had possession of it. He was to stand outside the playing area and kick the ball in.
He placed the ball on the ground, and walked back twenty paces; he was planning to kick the ball very hard. He then dropped his stance, ready to take off running. He brought one foot up and then kicked the dirt beneath him in order to make a small foothold. The instant his foot hit the ground, it rumbled once.
Every child was aghast, including the boy. Was it him, he pondered. He decided to make the foothold larger. He brought his foot up, and then crashed it down again. The ground rumbled again. He and the other children decided it was him after all. He knew this kick was going to be the greatest kick the world had ever seen, if just his stomping could make everything around him shake. He was ready to kick now.
He took off running. Every time he touched the ground, it would rumble. Each step became louder and louder. His twenty paces were covered in just a couple seconds, but the rumbling that each step caused made it seem longer. As he got closer to the ball, the rumbling became as loud as a roar, and the ground itself started to shake. A couple of the smaller kids fell over, and another one ran off in fright, which pleased the boy greatly as he ran. With two more steps to go, he slowed down just enough so that his right leg would be able to kick the ball. He swung his leg forward with all his might, smashing into the side of the ball.
The moment of impact, a sound and sight that none of the children had ever heard or seen before arrived. They watched as the ball shot towards the stone walls like a bolt of lightning. They promptly ran away after that.
The ball missed the walls. More precisely, there were no longer any walls to stop the flying ball. The walls had been destroyed. There, standing amidst the rubble, was the cause.
The ball flew over the heads of the first few mysterious figures. It landed in the midst of a few of them. One reached down and put what should have been a hand over the ball. To the onlooker, it appeared as though mud covered the ball, and an arm of mud, dirt, and sand lifted the ball over its sandy head. It threw the ball forward, and not a speck of dirt was on it. However, there were no longer any children to catch the ball.
“Majesty!” A single deeri ran into the hall. He was dirty and exhausted, much to the disgust of many nobles who were watching the advisory meeting. Fidel hadn’t been able to hold a meeting for a few months, so every important person in the country had taken the time to assemble this day.
“Your colors, they are from Farrow, correct?” Fidel spoke calmly, quickly speaking before any guard could interrogate the man. The look on everyone’s faces changed as they realized that the ragged deeri was not a citizen of Rising.
“I carry a message from the governor of Tendal, from two days ago,” the deeri said.
“Two days from Tendal?” Darius in his olive-green coat could not hold back the amazement in his voice.
“It’s too urgent. Will the king of Rising accept the message of the governor?” the deeri asked.
“Yes! But first take a drink,” Fidel said.
“There is no time. With your acceptance then, the message is as follows: Tella has fallen. Tendal is under siege. The enemy is unknown. Men made of mud and sand who are impervious to swords and spears. They attack buildings, and destroy towns, but ignore the people. Send help, any help. We can’t stop them. Refugees from Tella have filled the city. Food and water will soon run out. They were originally spotted moving towards the west, in a line that will eventually lead towards… Rising.” The deeri finished his words with a stutter. Seeing that he was done, Fidel motioned to a servant in the corner of the room. A pot of water was brought to the deeri. He drank quickly, and then fell asleep from exhaustion. Another two servants carried him out of the room.
“Sire,” Diren whispered, at Fidel’s right side.
“I know,” Fidel said.
The room was murmuring with no hint of silence. The arguments that the nobles started could clearly be heard.
“Destroyed? How could that be?”
“By an unknown enemy? Impossible.”
“It could be the ones from the far east. The very violent ones.”
“This far west though? Would they really make such a trip? Have they already conquered the rest of the nations?”
“Maybe Tendal is overreacting. It wouldn’t be the first time they made a pebble into a boulder.”
“Tella! What a wonderful city. A shame. They have wonderful apples.”
“I refuse to believe any of that story. It’s too ridiculous.”
“Leave this room.” Fidel calmly directed his instructions to the gallery. A few were indignant, but matters of national security were beyond the authority of most to observe. A few high-nobles remained in the gallery. He also cleared the room of those who didn’t have a certain level of status, including servants, guards, provincial governors, and regional organizers.
The room soon consisted of about thirty people, the top twenty people in the government of Rising, and the high nobles. The only exception was Aoi, the blue-haired attendant that rarely left Fidel’s side. A few people looked at her strangely, trying to remember who she was, for they hadn’t seen her for a while. With Fidel’s constant sickness, and the relative peace of the nation, Fidel and Aoi hadn’t made many public appearances in the past few months.
“Was it necessary to clear out that many people, Fidel?” Jane Melonscone asked from the gallery.
“Yes Madam. It’s regarding the enemy that was spoken of. I’m sure most everyone here didn’t understand the messenger’s description. Am I correct?” The room murmured in agreement. Darius and Diren, along with a couple other advisors, did not fall into this group. They knew quite well.
“Shall it be explained to everyone?” Diren asked.
“Diren, this is your subject, please explain what you know.” Fidel authorized Diren to speak on his behalf.
“The King is worried greatly over this strange sounding enemy, for a good reason. As the court historian, I’m privilege to a certain amount of history. There is a certain, well, species; I’d guess you’d call them that, that doesn’t exist in the last five-thousand years of history. They have an old name. Maroon. They are unlike any other species. They are supposed to be immortal, actually. The reason history has forgotten them is quite clear, they have been separate from it from time immemorial, never stirring or being disturbed. As to what they are, they are not made of flesh, or flesh as we know it to be. They look like mud, and they probably are. But, just as a nails and shells do not appear to be fleshly, and yet still are, maybe their mud is something similar. Although, they can actually touch dirt and it becomes a part of their body. But now I’m rambling. The important thing is that they are now moving. They have been silent for five-thousand years, though history doesn’t explain where or why. They aren’t mentioned to be violent, which makes this quite puzzling. But they also think very, very slowly, according to history. They may be immortal, but at the cost of a mind that thinks at the same speed we do. Quite ironic, really.”