Will you come Unbound?
Once upon a time…
There was a realm much like ours, but different.
Here Animals spoke with a fluent Human tongue. Magic was old. Wolves shape-shifted under influence of the full moon, and the once mighty House of Red, was falling.
The bright amber Hunters Moon, in all its fullness shone. So bright did it shine, that the stars that hold court in the night were blinded away by its brilliance in the cloudless night.
Far out from the crumbling city of Zhan’ding not a single breeze blew. The air began to grow stale in the late hour. The forest darkened as time passed onward, not even the moon could break through its guarded secrets and cast spells. Nothing moved. Nothing aside from the contingent of soldiers that manned the Outer Wall in heavy anticipation. Every available post filled, every available man armed with aged, broken, and rusted weapons.
The buildings, bricks and mortar groaned. The very ground Zhan’ding was built upon moaned a sad melody. The Outer Wall creaked, homes creaked, and the Great Palace creaked. They all creaked upon the stale wind that swirled around. The soldiers listened to their fair city sing its requiem for death. The soldiers wished not to speak of it, but it seemed the city would do it for them. The city knew that it would not see another beautiful sunrise come across the horizon.
A soldier attempted to flee, but was put back in his place by the Captain, who forcefully shoved him back where he belonged without a word. He continued on his rounds, hands clasped tight behind his back. Fear shot through his spine, but loyalty to his dying city over powered him to continue on.
The great city of Zhan’ding, ruins. Nothing more now than broken individuals, crumbling houses and decaying dreams. Having seen its height of glory many years ago, during the Queen’s War, when the immortalized Lord Red, killed the demon Queen of the Wolves, effectively scattering the Wolf Empire into nothing more than handfuls of bickering Clans. Bickering Clans that have continued to fight amongst themselves in an internal power struggle. But even that was not without its costs to the Realm.
The city began to show its age to all who looked upon it. The Outer City, nearly inhabitable. Homes near the Great Wall abandoned and stones repurposed elsewhere. While the deep Inner City began to reach that point. Even the Great Palace began to crumble away and Central Tower to lean horribly.
All available supplies allocated to the integrity of the Outer Wall. Even that was became a daily task. A task that grew more challenging with each rising sun. Supplies from crumblings homes were becoming more rotted, and unusable. While the Wall itself seemed to no longer contain the will to remain standing. It produced new holes when another was fixed. Great support beams have been crafted from the surrounding woods, but the citizens dare not enter too far into those woods.
This night, all in the city waited with heavy anticipation. They knew the Wolves were coming. For they came every night. Every night to wear down the Wall. In recent days they have grown more persistent, and always more in number than the previous night.
Wolves are patient. Wolves always have been. They slowly wear down the Wall. Patiently waiting to destroy those that scattered their Empire.
Saledii Pastalia Red, last heir to the House of Red, spends this night like all others previous. She stands with the same heavy anticipation as her soldiers a world away on the Outer Wall. Uneasiness, sadness, and remorse hung upon her bright pumpkin colored eyes. Fire red hair curled like a burning bush around her head. With deep red full lips and simple pink rose slip, Saledii stood watch over her dying city, her heart does not beat hard.
Saledii waited with heavy anticipation.
Soldiers waited with heavy anticipation.
Citizens waited with heavy anticipation.
Zhan’ding waited with heavy anticipation.
Below her balcony, a bronze statue of a four-armed Bear headed deity, easily towering over two grown men. The deity stands upon one leg within an open rose flower. His second leg locked at the knee outwards, almost a dance to those who look upon it. Two arms locked above his head fingers pointing forever skyward, other two hands extended out before him, ready to catch the falling. To catch the falling and lift them to the High Heavens. Bare chested with primal tattoos marking his body that glow other worldly in the amber moonlight.
Staring at the statue, Saledii closed her eyes tight. Her mouth moved, but no physical words were released. She silently prayed to the guardian of Zhan’ding. Prayed that he will watch over the city. Usher the spirits of the dead safely to another world.
High pitched howl after high pitched howl pierced the night air. A bank of clouds, which had been gliding unnoticed, covered the bright moon. With the amber light gone, the cloud cast the city into unending darkness. Unable to finish her prayer, Saledii forced her eyes open, but she saw only the glint of torches and lamp posts that flickered throughout the city. The howls unbearable. They echo endlessly through the dark, twisted streets. They reach every home. Every ear. They wake the sleeping. They terrify the awake.
A death knell sings its song.
Saledii gripped the banister of the balcony tightly in her fragile hands. Her breath taken away. Once silent heart now drumming in her ears. The bells sound not too long after the howls die away into the nothingness. Soldiers all cry out what she already knew.
Wolves have breached the city, they cried.
Hide, hide for your lives, others screamed.
“Secure the Eastern Wall!” Saledii screamed down to soldiers that rushed around the deity statue. Her voice grand and powerful over the warning bells of the city. They changed direction with no question. Swords and lances glinted in the fires.