Shots echo from down the street and the eruptions of cannon shot ricochet along the walls to the ears of a victim of war, bringing back unwelcome memories of barracks and foxholes in Westarn. Shadows crossed his mind of the bodies he saw shattered, the places he saw demolished, and the lives destroyed. Faces, familiar now from repeated remembrance, clutter his brain in an effort to crush him. He stands looking over the river. Lightning illuminates his face as a tree crashes to the ground. Rain streaks his face, scarred from battlefields and fortresses which fill his mind with unwanted memories. His face is pale, drawn and intense with pain. His hair is tossed back by the wind and he lurches to the rail of the bridge, desperation clouding and fogging his already troubled brain nearing destruction. He closes his eyes for a moment and sees faces, bodies, flags, forts all demolished, dead, torn and ripped. Blame pours into his mind and fingers thrust themselves into his face. Lighting strikes the bridge and misery weighs his shoulders down and pushes him to his knees. The troubled river below him matches the state of his mind and he falls backwards in agony.
He stood looking into the basin below, swept by a thunderstorm. He was high enough up to be able to see the individual storm cell, and the dust rising up from the pelting rain, but on the mountain the skies were clear and a strong breeze blew, ruffling his too-long hair and whipping his cloak about him. His arms were crossed and rested on the butt of two pistols stuck in his crude leather belt. His feet were spread squarely apart and his head held high as he surveyed the hidden valley below cloaked with mist and fog as the early morning clouds lifted off to reveal the lush, green mountain valleys. There were two kinds of people to him: those in the plains and those in the hills. Farmers, ploughboys, soldiers, clerks and merchants, and mountain men, adventurers, hunters and survivors of a long lasting race of men with superior physical form, lungs, instincts, and survival knowledge than those in the plains and the foothills sweeping down from the Carrock Range. Their bearing was dignified and stern, much like the soldiers of the plains, the only ones who bore any resemblance to them. He took a drink from his water canteen and looked over at the sun, setting in a brilliant sea of oranges, pinks and purples till it disappeared behind the Wavelock Mountain Range which bordered the Eastern Sea. It disappeared, and he turned to go.
Times were changing in Glasgow. The brief peace they had enjoyed since The Great War hung on the edge of a knife as the people rose in rebellion against Lord Governor Williams and his general Rupert Collings. The rebels, led by Captains Richard Lindsey and Nathaniel Greene, two young ambitious commanders who once held high positions in Glasgow’s army, were growing in numbers and as spring gave way to the vigorous summer campaigning season, Glasgow’s leading officials began to organize the Glasgowian army. The officials held the rebels in contempt and felt quite secure in their ability to crush the spark of rebellion before it set Glasgow on fire. The rebels’ position was not yet known, however, to the Glasgowian leaders. It was known that they had retreated northwards but there were numerous places they could’ve gone. The Glasgowian leaders’ largest concern was that the Dracian army would join the rebels and take over Glasgow with their combined forces. The rebels alone proved no threat. Our aforesaid character’s name was Jakin, and he stood atop the mountain in the Carrock Range which overlooked the town of Kenneth, the Glasgowian Royal Corps headquarters, barely visible from that dizzying height of three thousand feet. His station with a battalion of the Royal Corps was the reason he stood there at dusk that night, but his thoughts were not on the Royal Corps, but on a face he had left on a nearby mountain six years before.
From the time he was two till he was sixteen, Jakin had lived in the wilds of many places along the Carrock Range in Glasgow and had traveled various other regions in the Alliance of Seven. The alliance was formed after the seven regions rose up against the tyranny of the Five Kingdoms resulting in their victory at the end of The Great War. The Five Kingdoms were subdued and the kingdoms were split up among the Seven to form a new and enlarged Seven Regions. Jakin was twenty-three at this time. Twenty years before his father had fought and died at the Battle of Beryn on the coast of Westryn, the southernmost region in the Seven. Jakin’s mother had died in the Rosetta Massacre on the southern border of Glasgow and his uncle had taken him north to the Richmond Hills, a place in the region to the west of Glasgow, called Xenith, to which the fires of war had not yet spread. The war ceased when Jakin was three years old and his uncle, ashamed for not joining the army in his country’s time of need, rode south to aid the wounded troops and capture the southern five kings, leaving Jakin in the hands of his brother in law, Jakin’s uncle Richard, of the house of Windsor. Jakin had never considered reclaiming his estate at Windsor. After the war, many of the estates changed hands, but by law it was still his. Jakin’s uncle disappeared to Ryndor Range when Jakin was twelve, and Jakin never heard from him again. His uncle had taught him all the necessary arts to survive by himself in the wild, however, and he was able to fend for himself in their small cabin in the easternmost part of Carrock Range until he was sixteen. When Jakin was sixteen he had traveled to Eastmarsh where he rendered service to the Duke of Orland, engaged in a bitter struggle with rebels whose leader had fought for the Five Kingdoms in the Great War. He was hung, and Jakin left the duke in a rage for that atrocity. Two years on the frontier had shown Jakin all the horrors of war. His best friends had died and he himself was made convict for deserting the duke before the duke had given him permission to leave. Back in Glasgow he had tried to avoid all conflict with the rebels, but when he was unexpectedly drafted his hopes for peace were overturned.