Bane War—Fury, Prologue (English)

Year 19299 Yava


In Nightwind, eight-year-old Saffa reflected on her very first day at Tenebres Institute[1]. All children with magic attended until age twenty, because of constant threats of invasion from the nation of Bratgon, their eastern neighbor. Upon graduation, they entered the army. King Ishethra, her mother, instituted the mandate ninety years ago.

 Wearing blue and gold pajamas, Saffa sat on Mother’s lap, looking up with brown eyes. “Mother, you promised a story about the Dread War. I’m ready.”

Mother brushed Saffa’s hair. “One century ago, the Dread War plagued Yava. Bratgon’s hosts drove west towards Nightwind as unprovoked aggressors.”

“What was in their army?”

“Rabs innumerable—Bratgon’s serfs, forced to serve their oligarchy with manual labor and in war. They used arquebuses and clubs. Behind them, their cruel taskmasters whipped them forward.”

“That’s mean. Why did they invade?”

“They claimed to protect their people from our evil. Truth is, they want our land and resources and have unwarranted hate and fear of our culture. Their dictators have a long history of chasing glory through war. Above all, their motive is driven by power, and fear of losing it.”

“Those are dumb reasons.”

“The dumbest. Besides rabs and their taskmasters, Bratgon’s war machine comprised ballistas, bombards, catapults, trebuchets, crude tanks… and the Zmey.”

“Tanks?” Saffa asked.

“Made of bronze, they burned coal, running on steam with tracked wheels. Their turrets shot lead and fire.”

“Did we have tanks?”

“No, Saffa, we refuse to strip Yava of so many precious metals to build such horrors. Our ki and martial weapons sustain us.”

“What are Zmey?”

“Three-headed dragons, bred in Bratgon’s mountainous east for one purpose: to destroy and subjugate.”

“I’ve never heard of them.”

“Just listen Saffa.”


“The war started in our eastern forests. Our lesnik, giant trees, protectors of the forest, fought with ferocity, repelling Bratgon’s first assaults. Unfortunately, relentless hordes burned everything in their path. I helped fight at Marasheart, but we retreated, regrouping here at Tenebres.”

“What did you wield, Mother?”


“What’s a Soulash? And who fought with you?”

“My golden whip. I use it to spank children who ask too many questions.”

Saffa smirked. “Really?”

Mother winked. “My army comprised human and gnome wizards. Centaurs and vilas completed the mix.”

“I’ve seen centaurs in the castle. What’s a vila?”

“Female custodians of nature, with potent earth magic. Sometimes called dryads. They live in the forests.” Mother’s gaze drifted to the window.


“Bratgon sieged Tenebres for five years.”

Saffa’s eyes bulged. “Five years?!”

“Five horrific years. I slew many foes with my whip while destroying some machines. Sadly, we couldn’t break the siege. Bratgon expanded their war into the nation of Samatria, our southwestern neighbor. They’re the longest-lasting democracy in all Yava.”

“Where everyone votes on stuff?”

“Yes. They also have the oldest recorded history on the planet—over nineteen thousand years. Their libraries are vast.”

“Can I go there someday?”

“I’m sure you will, my adventurous daughter. Now, back to the story. In the foothills of Samatria’s gleipnir[2] mountains, Bratgon harvested the minerals, renowned for their magical and structural applications. Archon Zofiel, magistrate of Samatria, led her warriors to fight them. They rode griffins and unicorns. She’s still Archon today.”

“So… you’re both ancient?”

Mother set the hairbrush down and scratched Saffa’s back. “A little ancient. Zofiel blew Griffin’s Cry, summoning a tempest to smash the armies of Bratgon. Many perished, but endless legions advanced over their comrade’s corpses, rolling to Sarwoth, the majestic capital of Samatria, its massive gate fabled for never being breached.”

“How big?”

“Twenty feet thick, sixty feet high. Made of red rock from those mountains I mentioned. Samatria’s army fought with ferocity for their livelihood and freedom. Zofiel pleaded with me for aid. No other nations helped, so I left this castle to join her.”

“Leaving our home?”

“Yes Saffa,” said Mother, wiping her eye. “We broke the siege. I left, taking Haldra, legendary assassin, and Lariel from Norembel with me. The armies of Tenebres followed. We flanked Bratgon’s legions at the gates of Sarwoth.”

“What’s Norembel?”

“A nation of high elves far to the south.”

“Did Zofiel fight?”

“She wielded Mulvastnef, the mighty Samatrian longbow. With its explosive arrows, she slew hundreds of enemies. I protected her.”

“What did Haldra and Lariel do?”

“Feisty Haldra threw Fulgsta, her thundering javelin, jolting the enemy with chain lightning. It returned to her hand with each throw. Lariel, stoic like always, rained fire, ruining siege weapons. With our combined armies and might, the tide shifted.”

Saffa’s arms shook with excitement.

“That’s when the Zmey came. Hundreds of them, all colors and sizes.”

“Oh no.”

“Our situation deteriorated. The gates of Sarwoth cracked, consumed by fire.”

“What happened?” asked Saffa, face creased with worry.

“I did the unthinkable, commanding all Nightwind to aid or rally around us for safety.”

“Our entire nation?”

“All our citizens and creatures—including children. Everyone came. Bratgon razed much of Nightwind during their exodus. The war culminated when the bulk of Bratgon’s army fought against the combined armies of Nightwind and Samatria at the gates of Sarwoth. I stood with Zofiel on the gatehouse, fighting the Zmey. Zofiel wielded Mulvastnef with mastery.”


“Now for the climax. Goryn, the ancient Zmey, swooped down, landing atop the gatehouse. He roared, demanding our surrender, threatening to consume our children if we didn’t comply.”

Saffa stared with wide eyes, her head leaning back.

“Zofiel responded by blowing the horn of Sarwoth. The sound carried for leagues, inspiring our troops. I dueled Goryn with my whip, telling him to leave or I would take his heads as my trophies.”

“Did you win?”

“His breaths, tail, and claws almost killed me. But I whirled Soulash, forming a golden barrier of azure fire, repulsing his attacks. I climbed up onto his back. He fought to throw me off, roaring in anger. But I persisted. Three heroic strikes shattered the sky and quaked the earth. The heads of Goryn fell away.”

“You chopped an ancient dragon’s heads off with a whip?”

Mother shrugged. “Yes.”


“Trust Mother. Goryn’s death invigorated our armies. They cheered, rallied, and turned the tide.”

“The war ended?”

“No, my child. The worst lasted six more years. But we forced Bratgon out of our borders and exterminated the Zmey. With Samatria’s help, Nightwind rebuilt. We remain ever watchful, fighting Bratgon off whenever they attack.”

“I’m glad we worked together with Samatria.”

“So am I. Without our combined strength, neither of our nations would exist.”

“Can I have just one more story?”

Mother stood and dropped Saffa in her bed. “I’m sure your father will tell you two tomorrow. For now, go to sleep, mighty warrior. Dream of victory. Dream of freedom.” Mother tucked her in.

“I love you, Mother.”

“And I you, dear daughter of Nightwind.”

When Mother left, Saffa fell right asleep.

[1] Tenebres Institute focused on mastery of magic, martial weapons, and warfare.

[2] Samatria’s gleipnir mountains contained enormous amounts of the highly valued red crystal.


Writing, characters, names, ideas © 2023-present by Jeff Johnson @jjxtra

All rights reserved.


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