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The Crimson Rise

Chapter 1

     Few of us left living today remember the time before our liberation and the birth of a new era of Manähu.  As I recount our history, it is currently the 74th year of what is called the 5th Era, and that I fear places me in my 93rd year of life.  I record our history for the sake of the children who are to grow up with out a soul who lived during the time of darkness before Junath Symp brought us the light.  

     I was just a soldier fighting for the Crimsons at the time when Junath’s part in the history of our world began to unfold.  But my tale in this web of history is rather insignificant.  The real story is that of a poor farmer’s son from the Perri Delta just outside of Eisen.  So my dear friend, please give an old man one last opportunity to share the story of Junath Symp.

 

 

     To understand the geography of Manähu before the 5th era, I have sketched a map of the land of that time.  Manähu consisted of eight countries: Perri, Thea, Qunereel, Tuckshire, Geor, Sprinx, Davenshire, and Haven.  Perri and Thea were coastal nations on the east and to the west of them was the nation of Qunereel.  Sprinx was on the far southwest of Manähu and Davenshire and Tuckshire were to the far north stretching across the continent.  Geor, mainly just desert, lay west of Qunereel, and west of Geor, nestled and perfectly protected by a mountain range, making it a very defensible region was the land of Haven. 

     Junath Symp was a 15 year old boy who grew up just outside of Eisen near the Perri Delta.  The delta was rich for farming and so the inhabitants of that region were normally rural farmers, who were content to plant, cultivate, harvest, and enjoy the fruits of their labors.   Junath and his father Seren, were no different.

     Junath, would help his father run the farm every year, and Junath was particularly partial to the animals he would raise.  There were numerous chickens, two cows, two mules, one fattening pig, but his favorite was an owl that made her home in their barn.  Perhaps it was her beauty, or her silent flight, or the fact that the rodent problem was nonexistent while she made the barn her abode, but it was indeed Lady whom he enjoyed the most every day when he visited the barn.  “Good morning Lady,” he would say, “You are looking beautiful as always.”  Her reply would often be a soft, “Hoo.”  

     Every morning before the sun would rise, Seren would fix a small breakfast and Junath would milk Sammy, their milking cow for nearly three years.  By time he finished and checked on the other animals, Seren would have breakfast on the table. 

On that fateful day, so long ago, their routine went like clock work.  However, by that morning’s conversation, Junath should have known that life was about to throw him a curve ball.

     “With the rumors of war spreading, the town folk grow anxious,” Seren said as he poured himself a glass of milk.

As Junath chewed on a piece of bacon he asked, “Why are the Crimsons attacking Perri?”

     “It’s not only Perri, but Thea as well.” Seren allowed a sigh of sorrow to escape.  “Rumor is that Tuckshire to the north is already gone.”

     “But, Dad, the nation of Qunereel has never been that violent before.”

     “Son, the way that Shorn Forte overthrew his government, should have told everyone that he was a cold, bloodthirsty soul, and that he would seek for more power.”

     Junath asked, “Is it true that Sprinx and Davenshire supports Forte and the Crimsons?”

     “Aye, my boy, that is what I hear, and Geor is undecided. Thea, Perri, and Haven continue the fight.  In fact, Junny, the elders of Eisen are meeting with the men to discuss critical orders received from Lanier and Fina.”

     “What time is the meeting?”

     “This evening around five.”

     With a sigh Junath said, “We are going to be busy trying to get everything done and dinner ready before you leave.”

     Junath began poking at his food as he allowed his thoughts to sink in.  With half of his breakfast still on his plate, he realized that he was no longer hungry.  He in turn began to focus on the nervousness that was beginning to grow in his stomach.  Though Junath refrained from speaking his thoughts he did think to himself, “Why is the world so eager to fight?  Why does war have to come to our home?”   

     Seren saw his anxious son and with words, tried to comfort him.  “A fifteen year old boy does not need to worry himself over something he cannot change.  Strife comes and goes and Ol’ Forte will come to an end eventually.  No one person can conqueror all of Manähu.  Besides, we poor farmers still have a farm to tend and the corn’s not going to pick itself. 

     Seren’s calm and collected rhetoric brought a relief that washed over Junath.  Though the nervous pit continued to exist, Junath genuinely smiled and replied, “Dad, you’re right, worrying about the crops never causes them to grow any faster, and worrying about war will not keep it away.  But today it is not here and I guess we will cross that bridge when we get there.”

     “That’s my boy, wise beyond his years.  Just like Jael.  You two must get it from your mother.  Come let’s go get that corn.”

     Throughout the day, Junath did not spend a lot of time contemplating the rising of the Crimsons or the war knocking at the door, but his meditation dwelt upon the seething anger he held for his older brother Jael.  When Junath was three years old, his mother died of a strange illness.  Jael, who at the time was sixteen years old, decided to seek work in the mines of Qunereel.  Junath never heard from him again. The heartache he felt from the loss of his mother and from the absence of his brother had over the years turned sour and had become hatred.  He hated because he was convinced that Jael abandoned him and his father to toil and barely survive on what meager earnings came from the farm each year.  Plus Seren was forced to raise a three year old son by himself.

     Even though his mind was clouded by the Jael and the war, Junath made great strides in completing his chores. Since Seren was preparing to leave around four, he allowed Junath to forego a couple of the less necessary chores.  This greatly helped expedite Junath’s work load. 

     Supper was simple, a chicken freshly caught, plucked and roasted over the fire.  To Junath, Seren was the best cook in all of Perri.  He often wondered how was a simple farmer able to season and dress the fowl to be so tasty.  Each time he asked Seren would reply, “Your mother taught me everything I know.” While Seren prepped the hen, Junath harvested some squash, tomatoes, and an onion from the garden. 

     At dinner as Seren carved the chicken he noticed that Junath seemed quiet and deep within thought.  Assuming that Junath was pondering on the Crimson’s advance, he said, “Junath, the Crimson army is far away and I told you that you don’t need to worry about their lust for war.”

     “Dad, it’s not the Crimsons that cause me to keep to myself, it’s Jael.”

     Upon this revelation, Seren gently said, “Oh, I see.”  He placed the sliced fowl onto the table and as Junath poured some water into their glasses. Seren let out a sigh and said, “Jael left because he thought it to be best.  He figured he could work in the mines of Qunereel and maybe send some money back home.”

      Junath angrily replied, “But he has left us to rot, forcing you to raise me, run a farm and now there is a threat of war…Jael is probably serving Shorn Forte in the Crimson army as we speak!”

      With a calm authoritative voice, Seren corrected Junath, “I will not have you insult your brother in my presence again.  He has chosen his path and it has led him well.  I assure you, Jael would not support the Crimson’s lust for blood.  He’s just not that kind of person…” with a reflective sigh he continued, “He has too much of his mother in him.”  With a gentle shake of the head, he looked at Junath and added, “Don’t doubt his love for us, it is stronger than you realize.”

      Junath, desiring not to rouse his father further, conceded the debate and moved on to more pleasant conversation. 

     After supper, Seren helped clean and then readied himself for the meeting.  He hugged Junath and told him not to stay up waiting his return.  It would be late and Junath needed to rise early to get a head start on his chores since Seren allowed him to skip some that day.

     As Seren left, Junath began to complete his evening chores.  Within a couple of hours, Junath finished and went and cleaned himself up. Then he readied himself for bed.  He sat in Seren’s rocking chair. His thoughts contemplating the war, Qunereel, and Jael.  As he sat there watching the flames of the fire flicker, he became drowsy and sleep was quickly upon him.  Then he stood and threw a couple of split logs onto the fire to fight the chill of the night and finally he climbed into bed and drew his mother’s patchwork quilt over him. Junath was soon asleep.

SLAM!

     Junath jolted awake and found his father in a mad dash.  It was extremely foreign for Junath to see Seren moving so hastily.  Without even knowing why, Junath could taste the bile of vomit in his mouth.