The Great Fortress city of Vel Anir had not known fear for three hundred years. It had been centuries since the alarm bells rang. Lifetimes since the thunderous sound of warning filled the air and the war banners were released. The echo of them had almost been forgotten, their sound a mystery that most citizens seemed to not even recognize.
Until voices shattered their illusions.
"TO THE WALLS!"
"ENEMIES AT THE GATES!"
"TO YOUR HOMES!"
The voices thundered and echoed, repeating again and again as the Anirian Guard streamed from their barracks and climbed the towering fortress that was Vel Anir's walls. They fell into formation as they had been trained to do, spears, bows, and swords in hand as they peered down at what befell their great city. On their way most had called it a joke, a jest, a drill if anything.
Yet as they came to stand behind the parapets they understood.
Before them they saw a massive black tide, an ocean of rabid corpses flanked by thousands of Black Armored centurions. They stood innumerable, countless. Most of their number raised on the old battlefields that Vel Anir itself had wrought. Great towers and siege works were held among their ranks, figures of black cloaks shrouded among the numbers of the dead.
They stood, unwavering, watching, massed in the great fields that surrounded the Fortress city. A huge cloak of mist wound around them, a shroud of shadows that had carried them for miles unseen.
The Black Tide stood before Vel Anir, the sound of guttural deathly moans echoing into the air as they waited. Fear flowed through the streets of Vel Anir, the alarms ringing, the city walls pouring with them. Great banners fluttered in the winds, a taunt that the undead cared so very little for. Time seemed to stand still, and then slowly the tide began to move forward.
Talus scrambled up the steps of the wall as fast as he could go. His boots thundered as he rushed, up the ancient tower. There were no guardsmen who got in his way, no civilians who were milling about. He had managed to make it here from the central city almost in the blink of an eye,
It had been three hundred years since someone had threatened Vel Anir, three hundred years since an army had marched on the Great Walls. Despite that though it seemed that the people did not forget, that memories of their time in the Guard and the training that had been instilled held true even now. Vel Anir was quiet, but it would soon be wrought with fire and blood.
Thawne greeted him a quick salute as he finally reached the top of the wall. "Kyslith?"
The word was bitten off quick. Kyslith was a city to the north, an ancient threat that had once fought a war with Vel Anir and Elbion. The city of the black, fueled by necromancy and undeath like no other place upon Arethil. Weeks ago there had been a rumor, an investigation by Zana and General Blackforge.
The Houses had not listened, but the Guard had prepared as much as it could. Thawne had nodded his head, though in truth the response was no longer required. The sound of the alarm bells still rang, even as the dark tide of undead began to scramble forward.
"Find any Dreadlord in the city, call on every House Guard, drag the fucking nobles themselves to the wall if you have to." His lips thinned to a scowl. "Ready the Trebuchet and range on those towers. Fire at the black cloaks...if You can find them."
The lieuetenant gave a quick nod, and then rushed down the wall to spread Talus' commands.
Ravens had already been sent to the armies of the West and the south, a call for reinforcements. It would take them days to muster their forces and return, but Talus had little other choice but to wait. The Army of the North had to remain on the border with the Empire, and the East...the East was already here.
It was they who would be tested.
Talus stood firm atop the walls, watching the growing tide below. Guttural groans of the undead seemed to resound as they marched forward towards the wall, and then from their siege works black archs of energy resounded, thundering through the air as they smashed into Vel Anir's great walls.