The beaches of Rosado were littered driftwood. Nets were cast and birds across the coast picked at seaweed. Those who worked these shores were from many races, ages, and beliefs. One thing united them, the wealth of the sea. Small grains of sand danced in rhythmic trembles. With each shift, their dance became more violent. In the city, dust fell from rooftops. In the streets vendors held to their wares to prevent them from falling.
In the deep it stirred. Evil boiled from the dark abyss as its body uncoiled, though it lived in the Fugue, it could be felt across Memora and the tremors of its malevolence compressed over countless ages was finally unleashed. It was the Infernal. It was the impossible. It would be felt.
The coastline receded from the fishermen on the shore. Further and further it went as it was replaced with panic. Screams across the coast were followed by horns in the city. Hundreds found their way to the Cliffside to climb into the arms of the city. In the distance a wave a hundred leagues tall rose. Eclipsing the rising sun, darkness fell upon Rosado.
In a thunderous crash all was death, water, darkness, and misery. Thousands gripped to the buildings in the streets as they were washed back into the sea. Many were taken off the cliffs of Rosado to their deaths.
As the water receded, survivors caught their breath, frantic to find their loved ones. A glimmer of light was found. In the moments of that light a cloud could be seen gathering in the west. It was darkness on the distant horizon. The Armies of the Unfettered could be felt. Their march was just beginning.
It was a small settlement, Hogund, barely established. It nestled not more than a few days from Edre’s River at the shores of the great lake surrounding Laboris Solis. At the gates a merchant caravan rolled into town. The horses still at a mad gallop careened down the street. The wagons of the caravan still adorned with the tortured bodies of its passengers. A loud crash could be heard outside the city, followed by a cloud of ash and debris. The guards rushed to their posts to witness. On the horizon, a thousand marched towards the town. An old man called across the ramparts for archers.
Within moments they could be seen, men and women wearing collars with eyes red and malevolent. In the front of their ranks Abnehmer march bearing a banner with a Red Hand. As they approached the standard-bearers imbibed bright white potions. Their bodies contorted and grew, turning them into horrid abominations of tentacles and teeth. They screamed in agony and delight as they frenzied towards the gates bringing them down.
A cloud of noxious white and green gas spills forth from cauldrons carried by the rear guard. Hogund is blanketed in a fog of death and mutilation. Townsfolk fall to the ground clutching their throats and convulsing forms. Their eyes turn dark as the massacre begins.
Dante Mercari was roused from his usual solace. There was a loud banging at his door. Standing and straightening his collar, he moved to answer it. Before he could cross the room, the door was flung open abruptly.
“They are here!” shouted his guard. WE MUST EVACUATE YOU!”
Dante quickly gathered his things. He took a moment to clear his throat, braced his shoulders and calmly stated, “Ahem, who…. exactly?”
His guard rushed to the other end of the room towards the balcony of the tower.
With a hurried gesture -stabbing his arm towards the lands beyond him shouted “Thhhheeeeemmmmm!”
Dante stepped towards his balcony and surveyed the grasslands. Beyond them the great waters surrounding Labores Solis could be seen. A hundred ships at least now docked there. From those ships wondrous and terrible machinations of war disembarked.
“I see”, Dante said as he wondered if Markus was fully aware of his betrayal. Their banners held high, they carried the black and red flag of the Red Hand. “So this is it then, these times have come, the pieces are finally in place”.
As if in a distant poem already written Dante spoke to the horizon so his guard could hear;
“The civilized places across Memora shall not be spared these horrors. Machines of war shall spill forth from Laboris Solis. In their company they will be escorted by legions of the Unfettered. The Red Hand’s banner will be held high in their wake. They come for Memora; they come to end the world. They will make camps in places surrounding many places across Memora. With Machines they will travel, filling the air with black smog. Atop their armored wagons, they carry huge pieces of red stone. They will plant these stones in places where their scouts have been digging. Travellers will be unable to stop them, return to nearby crossroads to report their findings. All across Memora a change shall be felt. The world will seem weaker. They will be seen in the windswept hills of the east. They will be seen in the deserts of the south. They will be seen in the marshlands of the west. They will be seen in the tundra of the north.
The End of Days have come.
The Day Of Zero.
The time for action falls upon those who can protect Memora from these horrors”.
Dante turns to his guard as he has finished and finds him white as a ghost.
“I have a job for you; you must send word to the Caravel, and to the Iron Legion’s Captain Rowan. They will meet, war is upon us, and we have little time”.
With that, Dante and his guard leave his chambers. Rousing horns wake the residents of the castle as his calvary and tradesmen form a caravan to depart.