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The Happy Times

The year was 1332nd, or in human terms, 754 AH. War was brewing. A small group of hunters was recently discovered savagely murdered and left to decay near the frontier, the battleground littered with weapons and corpses of both drow and human origin. As contact is lost with one tribe after another, three younglings are sent into Europe to gather support and finances for a united stand of all tribes against the French invaders. Little do the drows know that forces indeed powerful and quite beyond comprehension conspired against both drows, other non-humans and humans themselves.

1

"The die is cast, neighbour. The Turks are advancing upon us, and we have nothing other than to unite." The two monarchs were dining together in the palace. Sitting side by side, they had in front of their plates maps of the region, one political and the other demographical. The two biggest smears were in reality slowly being compressed by two other blobs, one black and another green, towards the center of the Balkans.

"They call you Mighty, and even though I'm reluctant to admit it... you might even be a bigger emperor than myself, you have more land, more troops, more money... I need your help"

The other one shook his head, visibly troubled. "We must strike together, Ioannes, not only us, but the entire peninsula." He slapped his hand on top of a rectangle-like olive-coloured shape north of the purple coastal smear.

"The enemy of my enemy is, unfortunately, my friend... It can't be helped, we must send a diplomat to his... empire", Ioannes' mouth twisted to spit out the word, obviously disgusted, ", and as soon as possible"

"I fear that our populace will suffer under the Turks. They, and most of the Islamic world, too, are quite well known for being openly murderous against non-humans. That would take care of a sixth or so of our population." "What bastards... Farewell, then, neighbour. I must tend to our northeastern friends", the taller emperor said, pointing to a horseshoe-shaped blue smear north of the rectangle-like one.

After exchanging formalities, the taller one was escorted out of the palace. These were quite bad times, a behemoth was advancing upon their borders, like a tumour that grew too much but wasn't cut out at the very beginning. The two of them could only meet and discuss for so long, they needed to act, and act quickly before it becomes too late.


It was quite a wonderful day. The village's elders ordered preparations for harvest of the crops. Of the three hundred or so villagers in the village, over half were in some way involved in farming. Most were only involved in sowing, to cover as much of the fields as possible in the short timespan they had, but the rare few who did the more delicate jobs of preservation, milling and baking were never involved in the rougher jobs.

The farmers nowadays sown in a cross formation. Having little land, they utilised the soil as much as possible. It was a necessity, too, since most of the crops were non-magical but planted in imbued soil and didn't give much, if anything at all. The entire village saw what happened to those who worked and ate magical plants, though, and what they saw was something they needn't see: some had their fingers burned off or turned into dust, some lacked entire hands, and some fared far worse, having their stomachs ripped apart from the inside out. Those scenes had been quite common some years before but fear drove away even the most

Ever since the humans from across the Grand River starter pouring over, and then mining out the life out of the earth, magic started going increasingly rabid, too volatile to handle as before in times immemorial, too erratic to tap into and use for some higher purpose.

The village lay near the conflux of two great rivers, in the area whose name, Paitica, the drows supposedly aquired from a human horde that poured into the area over a thousand years ago.

The entire village appeared as though it was in its entirety on its feet and preparing for the harvest. The fields were quite big, too, or so Narral thought.

Walking down the streets and towards the bazaar, she noticed that, at the pace everyone was moving to get their tools, their containers or whatever else they needed prepared, this year's harvest was going to end quite before last year's.

Although Narral herself wasn't a farmer, or in any way involved with agriculture, she helped things along. Her mother cultivated maize in the fields and needed new tools and containers. Everything reaped went to communal storage, was processed or stored, and then the produce divided evenly across the village.

The bazaar lay just down the road. The streets were limited by lines of houses of varying heights and widths. Most were stone and brick houses covered in cement, though a rare few of the newest houses used concrete as their base. Most were painted black or blue, though some special buildings, such as the elders' houses or granaries, were coloured ochre.

The bazaar, basically a big nest of merchant stands, was rather empty now, lacking both in merchants and buyers. The few stands where there were merchants present lacked the buyers they hoped to get.

Some stands' surfaces were stacked with sickles and shovels, with tools such as plows by the stands' sides, some had meat in various forms and colours, ranging from dark reds to vivid blues and harbouring a huge pallete of smells, and yet some exhibited delicate woodwork such as sculptures of blue-tinted lynxes and huge birds of prey. She thought they were quite cute, and even halted at one stand to check out the sculptures

Ignoring the merchants' shouts of self-advertisement and comments about her body and robes, Narral walked over to a tool merchant. Running her right hand gently over her pocket, she took out a small bag. Shaking it slightly, it gave off a pleasuring rattle.

She took out an iron coin. "Three shovels", she said monotonously. The merchant, glancing at what he had in front of him, he passed her the shovels and returned a few coppers.

She slowly walked away from the bazaar, followed by some whispering and a whistle. Striking the bundle with a sharp look, Narral went on.

"You're wearing quite a lot, young priestess"

Turning around, she saw a figure garbed in black robes, head topped with white hair. His sarcasm struck her, too.

Narral glanced round quickly, and somehow, the street was quite barren, somehow suddenly nobody was in it. Nobody but that figure.

Looking at him, she saw his black skin gleaning in the sun, it was quite a contrast to her own dull.

She noticed he was moving closer, closing in on her, his lips widening and parting, revealing canines and a sharp tongue. He reeked of malice.

She took a step back. And another. And like in dancing, every move he made, she mimmicked but in the opposite direction.

Why did she have to get such a thank-you? She was most certainly worth more than this.

Her hand brushed against a wall immediately behind her. There was nowhere else to run, nowhere else to go, to get away. She panicked, nothing else to do but face the stalker.

He put his arms into one pocket and drew something long and quite thin...

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