Swordbreaker (Excerpt)

The army stood atop a large hill, overlooking the vast and bright valley of Ravenshunt, where the battle was to commence. The brisk autumn air blew Melandon’s black battle cape around his stout frame. Though he was fifty-nine years of age, the old king was ready for war.

His son was only thirty-four, and this was to be his first glimpse of battle. For nearly thirty years, King Melandon had kept the plague of war far from his domain. Long ago he was known as Swordbreaker, the tyrant who conquered thousands of peoples with his blades. He had since closed that chapter in the history of Carlise, the realm where Perbadon lies.

Now, King Melandon needed not to go looking for war, war had found him. The nations to the south had not forgotten the wrath of the Swordbreaker. For years the people down there held in the hearts a hatred for King Melandon that no treaties for peace could quench. They saw how the old king used not his blades, but instead his words, wealth, and trade to subjugate others. He had grown soft, and the time was right for him to pay for his past misdeeds.

Although his sword had remained sheathed, Melandon found other ways to wage war. He had the highest tariffs on exports in Carlise. Being the most prosperous land with the most abundant resources, the other nations were forced to deal with Perbadon traders when they wanted stone from Melandon’s quarries, iron and other metals from his mines, wheat from his fields. The high price of trade caused the other kings to raise taxes on their own subjects, which beat the peasants even harder into poverty.

It was only until recently that King Melandon had a change of heart. He became more philosopher than warrior in his old age. He envisioned a unified Carlise. He got it, to an extent—the rest of Carlise unified in arms against him.

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