The towers of Alger stood for two thousand years against the bitter cold of the mountains beyond. Their shadows were cast as long, watchful beasts across the great valley below, and within the confines of the arched walls outside, one would be assured of safety from the barbarian hordes or the impending wars from the North and South, from the Bespectacled King and the Lords of the Olgen. And on a fine winter’s morning, when the air swung low, dragging a chill breeze that cleansed even the most terrible of colds and drove a spike of warmth, solitude, and wonder into the most staunch of hearts in memory of the thousands who had lived here among the tribes of the Alger, the small white and blue flowers of the Hegemon awoke from the snows and dispensed their glittering seeds into the world.That's it!
Orin Dol stood along the gates at just such a moment, tears in his old eyes. He was covered head to toe in thick, tanned wool, which hid his wrinkled, decaying features from the trade caravans moving along the Alger River below. They were heading north, to the black lands where the Bespectacled King was awaiting his offering from the tribes of Irion, who he had finally achieved dominion over in a long, petty dispute over lands along the outer edge of the mountains.
What fools, he thought. Fools indeed. Trading their lives to a king of lesser blood. His ancestors would never have done such a thing. It was unheard of until the Garion of Calin became High King of the tribes of the Alger and sold his soul to the devils. In olden days—so long ago now, as Orin recalled—the High King kept the borders stocked with warriors and the great walls of the ancestors manned and in prime shape—the repairs never ended. The lands of the Alger were not prized for their fertility, for the land was so arid in parts that even the hardiest crops could not grow, even with the aid of irrigation from the fertile lands beyond. The Bespectacled King and the Lords of the Olgen pried the lands of the Alger for the pure desire of ownership. There was a bloodlust in their eyes when they saw what new territories they could add to their coffers.
Looking deep within the walled center, Orin could see that very look on the face of just such a lord—Lord Pinwaul of the southern lands. The young, vibrant looking man could have rivaled the Bespectacled King in garb, adorned from head to toe in pristine armor engrained with gold filigree—shaped like the monstrous orbax of the southern plains, a great beast with curled and spiked horns and eyes that bled steam—and a crimson cloak framed with the spotted fur of the snow leopards that once hunted in the upper tundra of the southernmost portions of the lands of the Alger—before the Lords of the Olgen wiped them out.
1. A word war is a writing game which involves two or more people. The participants select a period of time (usually 10-15 minutes) and then, at the same time, do nothing but write for that amount of time. In the end, everyone counts up their words and the person with the most words wins. The object isn't necessarily to win so much as write something. It's also a great way to kick writer's block (if you believe in such things).