Verdania, the Undead, and The Founding of Havenshire
Verdania was a land of lush green plains, oak and pine filled forests, and hills and mountains filled with the black metal onyx. The people that lived there were a peace loving mass that had intimate knowledge of farming, fishing, and were not overly concerned with upper class living, for the most part. Outside of their few major cities the people lived in small farming towns that often bordered forest and hill, and were named for such.
Oakridge was one of such towns. And in this particular town lived a boy who would one day bring about a massive change to the land of Verdania. His name was Aleksander Zachery. He was the son of Mikael Zachery, a hero of previous wars in the land of Verdania against a neighboring kingdom, and the descendant of a long line of heroes of many conflicts in the past. Alek’s mother was named Myst. She was a woman of exceptional beauty and skill in tending to a garden, sewing, and as many said some other, less than human, skills.
Myst was a woman with intimate knowledge of the intricacies and complexities of magic, for she was one of an ancient race called the Fae. The Fae were a race beget of the creators of the cosmos. Seraphim and the other Prime Fae, who had created all things, were also responsible for creating the lesser Fae race. The lesser Fae were commissioned to live upon the created worlds and ensure all was protected. Myst, a Fae of dream and vision, had fallen in love with one of the humans she had seen while doing her duties, and forsook her magic, in order to live a peaceful and happy life with the human she had fallen for.
However, for many years before Aleksander was born, the land of Verdania was plagued with repeating troubles. These troubles are where the tale truly begins. The Kingdom of Verdania had fought many wars with neighboring kingdoms due to the fact that many of the opposing forces wished to create an empire, and take Verdania into their territories. The King of Verdania was a man named Charles Kerrich. He never invaded any of the other kingdoms, and merely ensured that their borders were well defended. He did so quite exceptionally. When the invasions lessened, he was praised, and when they stopped altogether, a grand celebration was held in his honor. However, the king kept his scouts wandering into the wilderness, for he wanted to know why the invasions slowed and eventually halted. The scouts reported that the other kingdoms focused on each other more, finding that Verdania was a territory that would require more focus to take on, than the others. However, that was not the only reason. To the east, a town along a river that fed into the ocean lay in ruins. It was a town of a neighboring kingdom that had fallen due to siege. However, there were no bodies littering the grounds, and the place still had provisions. The king sent some men out to this city, to inspect the town for any clues as to what happened, and to take the provisions and bring them back. Only a few of the men made it back.
The town had been the subject of an experiment. There were no corpses, for those that had been killed there were merely raised as the living dead. More scouts were sent out to other neighboring countries, to see if it could be discovered who was at fault for conducting this experiment. These scouts would return, only having found out that many of the cities abroad had been destroyed, and were now devoid of people, whether living or dead, just as the first city had been. Scouts returned home to prepare for the worst, and as was expected, it eventually came. The living dead scoured the country sides, attacking city after city, destroying defenses, killing people to add to their numbers, and then simply moving on. This was not conquering, it was merely destruction. The horde of Undead washed over the land of Verdania, and reduced the capital to rubble. In the process, the king was among the fallen.
A few remaining soldiers hurried the citizens out of their homes, to evacuate somewhere else. Many groups of refugees were formed, and they all ventured to different areas, to hopefully preserve as many people as they could, and to help build up some time in order to formulate a plan of survival and victory against the Undead. In the harried travels of one such group, a lone church hidden in the woods was discovered. Within the church, the few soldiers hid the citizens in a basement, venturing out only once in a while to gather some food. One of the soldiers, a man by the name of William Bennett, often visited the library of the church, reading the texts within. He was amazed by these books, and wondered about this church’s origin. Often, he became engrossed in one particular book for the majority of the time spent there.
– – – – – –
“Where are we supposed to go?” asked William’s brother, Daniel Bennett. “The Undead have already destroyed our towns, and laid waste to the other kingdoms before us. Where is there to hide!?”
“We will never survive if all we do is hide,” stated William, his eyes never leaving the book he read.
“What other option do we have? We are all that is left.”
“There were other refugee groups.”
“And who knows if they are still alive, or where they have gone? And what does it matter. They have no where to hide either.”
“We shall not hide. Hiding will not bring us survival.”
“So I shall repeat as well. What other option do we have?”
“You two bicker like a married couple,” stated Dorian Whatman, the third soldier in the library.
“We have a way to fight them now,” Will said, ignoring Dorian’s comment, as he tapped a finger upon the page he was reading at the time. “The answer is so clear.”
Dan shifted, and looked over his brother’s shoulder and at the book, only to raise a brow in confusion. “How is it so clear? That book is written in another language. How do you know what it says?”
“It is not in another language, it is perfectly legible,” Will said, as he stood up, and closed the book. He would not put it away though, merely keeping it at his side, as he grabbed his sword, and walked out of the library.
Just then, voices raised in panic could be heard coming from outside. Will, Dan, and Dorian rushed outside to see what was going on. Outside, they would find another group of the refugees running through the forest as they were pursued by the Undead.
“This is it, we are done for…” muttered Daniel, as he withdrew a pair of long daggers from scabbards at his hip.
Will stepped out in front of Daniel, and rose his sword up into the air. A sunbeam, at that moment, pierced through from the tree’s foliage above, to bathe Will in its light. As it did so, he stood before the running refugees and raised his voice, speaking in a tongue that none of those around him could understand, yet it caused the Undead to come to a halt as they turned to face him. A shout of anger brought them all upon him. The sun’s light brightened as Will brought his sword down, now seemingly glowing a bright golden color, as if it had been blessed by the sun. He swung the blade out in a wide arch, slashing across the Undead, and searing them in light of the Sun. Soon to follow, fire burst along the bones and decayed flesh of the Undead pursuers as they raced in. Mindless and set only on their goal, they continued to chase, even as their reanimated bodies burned. Before they could even reach Will, the undead burned till ash was all that was left of them, in little piles in the grass. The fleeing refugees came to a stop, to look back in amazement at what Will had done, and quickly ran back to him to praise him. Daniel stood in amazement but quickly shook that feeling aside, and rushed the new refugees into the church, to hide them with the others in the basement.
“What did you just say?” asked Dorian, as he approached Will.
“I merely repeated what I read in this book,” Will said, as he turned and looked back to Dorian.
“But you spoke in a language I have never heard before.”
A shocked expression took over Will’s face. After a moment, he would reopen the book, to look back through the pages. Only now did he realize that what was stated before, by Daniel, had been true. The book was written in a language he was not familiar with, much less had seen before. Yet, somehow he knew how to pronounce every last word, every last syllable, and knew what it all meant. He did not know how he knew all this, and due to such, he would sit down on a tree stump, and begin reading the book anew. Partway through the first page, he lifted his head, and looked back to Dorian.
“Something otherworldly is in place here. It guided me to this book, and whatever it was, lent me the power to vanquish the Undead chasing the refugees.”
“Whether it is some sort of divine power or some arcane source, we must find out the origin of that book, then.” Dan said, as he re-emerged from the church accompanied by one other person.
“South of here there is another bit of forest. Between these two forests is a large clearing. I have instructed some men that had been part of our party to begin constructing a town, so that we have somewhere where we can try to build up and fight back against the Undead,” said this other man.
“What is your name?” asked Will.
“I am Warwick; Warwick Zachery.”
“Well, good job Warwick. Dan, I need you to head south to check on this town, and report to me how many of the refugees are there. If possible, we should begin bringing our people together. With the boon the teachings of this book has to offer, it would be best to protect everyone when we are together. At the same time, we can never forget this church. This church has been a haven to us. We should declare this forest The Havenwood. The church, should be called The Light’s Haven, and our new town shall be called… Havenshire.”
Dan nodded, and took Warwick with him as he readied for the trip he was to make. The two would head to the south to check on the town’s construction. It would take time before it would be completed, but the refugees were the focus for now. Upon arrival in what would be called Havenshire, Dan and Warwick would find that many groups of the refugees had made it there, and that there had already been other groups contacted by scouts, to alert them to this rebuilding.
“So how many groups are there left?” asked Daniel.
“There are three headed in from the west, and one from the south-east,” stated the man who had been in charge of overseeing the construction.
“My brother watches over another two groups at a church hidden in the woods just north of here,” stated Dan.
“And he possesses the knowledge of some power capable of saving our people from the Undead. He vanquished an entire group of Undead chasing my party with a single slash of his sword,” stated Warwick.
“Amazing! Such power must be a blessing of the gods!”
“Whatever it is, he says he learned of it through reading some book in the church. He quoted a passage from it, before swinging his weapon.”
“When the town is finished, we shall hold a banquet in his honor, but first, we must focus on things here. If you can escort the refugees from the church to here, we could use the extra hands in rebuilding.”
Dan and Warwick nodded. But it would be Dan who would go. Dan told Warwick to stay behind and help, while he went back and got his brother and the other refugees so that they could come back and help in the rebuilding. Dan did so, and it would only be a few days later that the refugees went into the new town, and began helping out. The church would not be forgotten however, and William would often return to it to read more of the texts there, to see if there was something more he could learn.
– – – – – –
However, time was not on their side, and it would not be long before the Undead found their new town as they struggled to rebuild. All the refugees had been brought back together, and many were fearful as they packed up and prepared to flee once more. However, before anyone could flee, William once more stood before the Undead and prepared to face them.
On a dark night, with thunder in the air, the Undead stormed the city. Once more, William shouted out words from the main text he had read, and once more, a beam of sun appeared. It parted the clouds in the sky, and shined a ray of light upon William. Once more, his sword radiated with a golden color, and when he swung his sword, the Undead burst into flame. It took more than one swing this time, and other soldiers helped in the fight, but the radiance of William’s own assault had the eyes of many citizens bedazzled. In short time, the Undead assault had been beaten, and all lay in piles of ash surrounding the town.
After the battle had been won, a large banquet was held in honor of William, and to praise the teachings of the text he read from the library of the church. In another few years, the city would be fully rebuilt, and by William’s suggestion, it was named Havenshire. On top of that, an assembly was held before the entire population of Havenshire, where the man in charge of the city’s construction took it upon himself to lay a crown upon William’s head, and name him the First King of Havenshire.
William named his brother Dan the Captain of the Scouts and had many trips petitioned to survey the surrounding areas. Any remaining Undead were dealt with quickly, but the battle that one thundering night had pretty much spelled the end of the Undead threat.Warwick was named the Captain of the Guard, and Dorian was named the King’s second hand man.
Neighboring lands, sadly, were barren, as it seemed the original Kingdom of Verdania had been the only one to survive the Undead onslaught. Thus, William named the whole country Verdania and set about sending people out to the abandoned towns to salvage what could be salvaged and open up the cities for re-population if more room was needed. In the years to come, the population expanded greatly, as those that survived focused on their families again. Even William wedded, and had a daughter named Elizabeth. Elizabeth Bennett became the Queen, after her father stepped down, and eventually married a nobleman as well; the son of Dorian Whatman.
All would be well in Verdania, as the Kingdom of Havenshire expanded from Seaside on the western sea to Pinebrook, near the eastern sea; and from Oakridge near the southern mountains to the plains in the north, before the frigid lands of the Giants. The threat of the Undead was long gone, and no neighboring human kingdoms existed any longer for any war to rise up. Trade with Dwarves in the mountains, and Elves to the south was set into place. Peace had taken over, and all praised William Bennett for it. In years to come, Elizabeth Bennett would have a statue of her father and uncle built in the center of town. When the statues were uncovered, the entire kingdom was in attendance and another grand feast was held.
– – – – – –
So began the days of the Kingdom of Havenshire. This was not their first worry, nor would it be their last, for the poor people of Havenshire were destined to suffer tragedies similar to this in years to come. Corrupt men wanting their own empires, and the curse of the Undead was bound to rear its head on these people again, but how long it would be before it happened again would only be known to those who would witness it.