Prologue

The crossroads. Where many a person had walked and crossed paths. Armies had been led to victory and death on such places. Nomads had used it to get from one place to another on their long journeys. Thieves and bandits had used it to wait for the unsuspecting bands of travelers, or the lone traveler. Entertainers on their way to fairs and other places of merriment had crossed the path. As had heroes, on their way to complete a grand quest.

However, that was all long ago. Now, the crossroads were abandoned. Footsteps there were nothing more than memory, with only footprints long ago embedded into the hard dirt. No laughter or voices, screams or yells, had been heard here in a long time. A traveler was a rarity now, as many feared and disliked going near the crossroads in recent years.

Years ago, an army had marched along those very roads. They had marched to fight against another army, in a battle for territory. They never reached their destination. Along the way, at the very crossroads themselves, they ran into something so terrible, that their very bodies were destroyed and torn apart. When travelers afterwards had come across the crossroads, the carnage had been so terrible that many had collapsed on the spot, to void their stomachs. Something had caused the bodies to implode. Eyeballs and brain tissue were scattered, as were organs and bone matter. Severed limbs and heads were strewn around at odd angles. No part of the ground went uncovered by the blood and gore.

Ever since the carnage of the crossroads, none dared approach. Fear of whatever force had come upon the army that fateful day kept all away. The lands north of the crossroads and the lands south of it became distant, since no scout or messenger would travel along the only roads between them. Soon fear of the crossroads spread to a wider standing area, until the entire area around the crossroads became abandoned and overrun by a dark forest. Few dared cross the forest that slowly grew along the barrier between lands, and eventually the northern and southern lands knew of each other merely by memory.