Fortunately in his younger days, Marven had distinguished himself in several battles during a minor campaign against the Drumvell Kingdom, and succeeded in earning enough favors from the higher ups in the army that he managed to get reassigned to Fort Varen when a position for captain opened up. Marven’s superiors had felt that his talents would be wasted in a place like this and he would serve a greater purpose serving at other front lines. But Marven turned down the opportunity to rise up the army ranks and chose to be with his wife and help her raise their son and two daughters.
Fort Varen is one of several forts constructed in the aftermath of the Second Great War of the Grandiel Continent. In the fear and anticipation that the Alvian Kingdom will launch another military conquest into their lands, the Kingdom of Trev, the Kingdom of Marak and the Kingdom of Khultan coordinated and built several of these major forts in key areas alongside the east banks of the Grand River of Kartank. The three kingdoms hoped these forts would boost each of their countries’ defenses and also discourage the Alvian Kingdom from attempting any further intrusion.
After several years had passed and it looked like the Alvian Kingdom did not have any plans to continue her military conquest, the Kingdom of Trev, the Kingdom of Marak and the Kingdom of Khultan decided to strike back and retake the lands they had lost during the war. In the span of 73 years, the three kingdoms made several attempts across the great river using these forts as launching points.
But the Alvian Kingdom was prepared, and every attack was swiftly dealt with brutal efficiency. Any force that attempted to land on the occupied shores would be greeted by a barrage of arrows. Those that made it through were then met with another obstacle. The Alvian Kingdom had elevated the banks on their side of the Grand River of Kartank using soil from the surrounding area. Instead of building forts, they created a wall of dirt that spanned for thousands of miles, from the start of the great river at the Ancient Forest of Leafern in the north, down to the south where the great river met the Azurin Ocean. Such a magnificent feat of human ingenuity, the Kingdom of Trev, the Kingdom of Marak and the Kingdom of Khultan would have been impressed if it wasn't for the fact that their soldiers were slaughtered by the hundreds before they even got the chance to get to higher ground.
After 73 years and several failed campaigns later, the Kingdom of Trev, the Kingdom of Marak and the Kingdom of Khultan decided to hold a cease fire. Focusing too much on the Alvian Kingdom would leave the other side of their countries vulnerable to attacks from the kingdoms located in the east. There was suspicion that the Alvian Kingdom would bribe the eastern kingdoms to harass them whenever they got close to achieving victory. Nothing was ever proven, but it is too much to chalk up as coincidence that every time one of three kingdoms made a significant progress in their campaign, a foreign major army suddenly appears out of nowhere and decides to hold a military training drill near the borders of their countries, within marching distance of their capital.
Marven lets out a huge sigh of relief as he surveys the eastern banks of the great river. His shift will come to an end soon, and another uneventful day would pass. Just like any other day in the past 15 years, Marvin thought. Technically they are still at war with the Alvian Kingdom, since there was no peace treaty signed. But the Alvian Kingdom seems content on defending, and Marvin thinks her decision won’t change anytime soon.
He is more concerned with the situation currently developing on the other side of the Kingdom of Trev. His country is currently involved with some dispute with the Drumvell Kingdom over logging issues. Both kingdoms are fighting over who gets the rights to the Blackvayne Forest near the border of the two countries. Which is ironic because they also share their borders with the Ancient Forest of Leafern located in the north. And you won’t see either of them scrambling to lay stakes on that great forest.
To understand why, you have to see the Ancient Forest of Leafern for yourself. Trees so huge it would take ten men holding their arms out to completely hug a tree. And its height could match any spiraling towers in the great cities. The leaves are so thick they could block the sunlight to the ground. A person needs only to take 100 steps into the forest before he would swear some ancient dragon had swallowed up the sun and turned day into night.
And then there’s the rain. Every now and then a rainstorm would occur with such intensity, you would think the world is coming to an end. Anyone who visits this place would finally understand why the Ancient Forest of Leafern is the source that is capable of feeding an insanely huge amount of water to the Grand River of Kartank and the other three great rivers flowing through the Grandiel Continent with.
But all these unique characteristics are not the reason why both countries are unwilling to claim stakes over the great forest. In the past, a long long time ago in the past, the Kingdom of Trev and the Drumvell Kingdom have sent logging parties to harvest trees from the Ancient Forest of Leafern. A logging party from the Kingdom of Trev went into the great forest and was never seen again. Another logging party from the Drumvell Kingdom decided to play it safe and harvested the trees on the outskirts of the forest. They were attacked by vines that flew out of the forests, got ensnared and dragged into the forest and were also never seen again.
A different logging party from the Kingdom of Trev managed to cut halfway through a giant tree before deciding to return to a nearby town for the night. They never got the chance to finish the job. All 7 members of the logging party were found dead in their beds, foaming at the mouths with an unhealthy greenish tinge to their skin. Then their bodies disappeared from the morgue before a medical examiner from the city could come investigate their cause of death. And the real kicker? The giant tree that these 7 men paid with their lives trying to cut halfway through appears completely healed without so much as a scratch on its bark.
All these events caused the Kingdom of Trev and the Drumvell Kingdom to combine their army and send a joint task force to root out the problem once and for all. The good news is only half of them disappeared. The bad news is the half of the army that didn't disappear were found decomposing while floating down the Grand River of Kartank. Two things happened after that. The sale of river fish dropped significantly and wouldn't recover until a month later and the powers-that-be in the Kingdom of Trev and the Drumvell Kingdom decided to stop sending people to the Ancient Forest of Leafern.
Marven turns his gaze to Fort Varen that stood behind him. The fort is fine, magnificent even, but it is no place to raise a family. Marven wonders if he has time to visit his wife in her village and see his children before his next shift starts. Then his second-in-command shouted the words that cause Marven to feel something he hasn't felt in a long time; dread.
“Sir! There’s activity across the river!”