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Azura and Talia

Azura and Talia

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Published by Garland Culbreth

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Published by: Garland Culbreth on Jun 04, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The neighboring countries of Azura and Talia had been at odds with each other since their foundation. Talia was populated by a race of half-animals, while Azura waspeopled entirely by humans. That's not to say that all humans bore a prejudiceagainst the half-animal kind, there were many countries where the two peoples lived inharmony. What made these two different was that no humans whatsoever lived inTalia, and that Azura had been founded by humans who bore a deep resentmenttoward the whole of the half-animal race. Their prejudice mainly stemmed from theone they followed, a king named Henry. Henry was a very charismatic individual andvery strongly opinionated. He gathered to him those who were of a mind like to hisand founded the country of Azura based on his idea of a perfect society. The Talians,in contrast, led simple lives in a small region of mostly forested land that unfortunatelybordered that of Azura. Their leader was Matthew. He was never appointed to therole, there was just an silent accord among the people that he was the leader. Theyrespected the magnificent red fox greatly, for the he was valiant. The Talians kept tothemselves, having dealings with other nations only when they had too, preferring tolive quietly in peace and freedom. As tensions rose between the nations, some found their loyalties divided. Therewere some humans who lived in Talia who were more inclined to follow their friends in Azura than their friends in Talia, or were drawn to Henry's promise of a Utopiansociety under his rule. Fellowships were broken as hostilities seemed neigh, and morethan one Talian saw close friends turn their backs on him. Some of them had beenclose, and now their bonds were rent by this betrayal. As the Azurites grew in number, they began expanding their territory tocompensate and began making advances into the Talia, building outposts there inpreparation for settlements. The Talians were not pleased with these advances,wanting to be left alone to live as they had. They sent messengers to the outpostsbidding them come no farther into their land. The captains of the outposts paid themno heed and after a short time, the Talians sent an ambassador to the Azurite court tomake the request formally. Andrew trudged along the stone road through the Azurite capital. Before andbehind him went a pair of Azurite guards, assigned to escort him to the king's court.The wolf was arrayed in the green and brown garb typical of the Talians. A travel
stained, olive colored cloak tugged at his shoulders and trailed behind him as hewalked. He wore no weapon, in token of peace, but in his left hand bore with him hissturdy walking staff, of about eye hight. After some minutes of walking, the threearrived at the Castle of Azura and passed through the gates with little interruption.The courtyard was well kept, but seemed to Andrew's mind to be devoid of growingthings. However, they did not linger there, but rather walked swiftly by and into thehall itself.The hall was dimly lit by torches on the walls and hanging lamps. At the far end sat the King and his court. Their thrones places on a dais raised a foot or oabove the rest of the hall. The nobles were attired richly in velvet and satin of avibrant blue color. The king himself was robed royally with a blue as deep asmidnight. A gold cape flowed down his back, and a silver crown graced his brow. Atthe set of stairs leading up to his throne in the center of the dais, Andrew's escortsbroke away and took their places behind him, bowing low. Andrew bowed only hishead in greeting, and no more than was recognized as custom. As he raised it again,Henry spoke saying bluntly, almost annoyed, “What is the message I am told you bringme?” Andrew stood tall as he replied. “My message, Henry king of Azura, is thus:We the Talian people desire that you desist in your advances into our country. Wedesire to live in the lands we call our own freely and in peace, untroubled by the other nations of the world. Therefore, we ask that you put an end to your encroachmentsinto our land that our two nations may continue to live as we have for the bettermentof both.”Several of the nobles shook their heads or laughed under their breath. Allstirred. After a brief pause, Henry responded, “Or else, what follows?” Andrew drew a deep breath. “If you do not cease your advances, we will stopthem ourselves. For although we desire peace, we desire freedom as well, and wewill fight to defend it if we must.”To this, the king replied, “I will put no such end to my advances. You and your people are naught but lowly animals, and thus we do not recognize your claim onthose lands. You are beasts, and we shall treat you as that which you are.”Then, at some signal, the escorts behind Andrew stepped toward him, drawingtheir swords. But Andrew was too fast for them. With hands that moved faster thansight, he raised his staff, striking the head of the guard on his left in the motion. As
that guard fell, Andrew whirled around and smote the guard on his right, driving him tothe ground.With the assault on him stopped cold, Andrew turned back to the king andnobles, who were more than slightly alarmed by his swift overthrow of their guards. “Since thus is your answer, I will return it to my people.” He said in a low voice, anddeparted from the hall.He strode from the castle and out of the city at a great pace, and returnedhome in a few days' time.When Andrew returned and conveyed Henry's reply to Matthew and the other leaders of the Talians, they were troubled deeply. They knew the Azurites maintaineda standing army of five hundreds strong. The entire Talian people numbered seventy-seven. Before taking action, Matthew consulted with Andrew as he had been oftenamong the Azurites bearing messages and understood best their mind. “If Iunderstand their manner of thinking aright, I believe they will gather their full strengthand wipe us out of existence in one fell stoke, hunting us down to death and leavingour lands open to them to use as they please.” Matthew considered this for amoment, “Even if they do not do so, it would be wise to set a watch on our border.”He said. William, knowing his next request even before it was voiced, went out fromthe council glade and gathered what men he could for the setting of the watch. TheTalians trained for combat from a young age. They loved peace but understood that,ironically, they may have to break it for a time to keep it. To that end, every Talian,man and women, was skilled in the use of the sword, the bow, and the spear, andkept their weapons and themselves always ready to defend what they had.Setting the watch proved to be more prudent than they had expected, and morequickly than they had hoped. For seven days the Talians had prepared to defend their land. They had hidden their children away in the deepest reaches of the forest, andfifteen of the women stayed with them to guard them should the battle go ill. Theremainder of the Talians who armed themselves for immediate battle numbered fifty.Each wore a hauberk of dark mail, which was covered by their typical dull green andbrown garments. Each wrapped themselves in a green cloak to provide concealmentamong the dense trees and leaves of the forest. Within a week, the sentinels reportedthat the Azurite army had arrived.The Azurite army made its camp on a plain near the eaves of the forest. Theterrain there was dominated by rocky and wooded hills. On one of these, Amon Heth,

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