A single piece of parchment sat on the desk of Jyme Keeler. The sign on the front of the office door read: "Unit 10 – Defense" in thick black writing. Keeler's desk was the first one, with a golden plaque reading "Defense Captain – Jyme Keeler".
The parchment was rolled up and was tied closed by a single, thick red ribbon that had a blood red seal on the top reading: UNIT 1 – URGENT. It was lying untouched by the five other workers in the room, but it did not go unnoticed. In fact, several times through the day, Ellwer Portollne picked the parchment up and looked it over, examining the seal. Peltro Junsk has been staring at the letter for the majority of the day, neglecting his own work entirely. All of the workers in the officer had stopped and wondered what it was the letter said, but no one dared to open it.
Jyme entered the office with his usual grin. His dirty blonde hair was long, reaching about his shoulders, and it fell flat around his thin face. His blue eyes were fixed on the man next to him. A tall strong boy with light brown hair stood to the left of Jyme, just outside the doorway. The boy's reached just past the boy's shoulders. He was dressed in all black, but he had light gray eyes and fair skin. A sword hung from the sheath at his waist.
"Just let me grab my mail and we will go down to the tavern," Jyme called to the boy. The entire room watched as Jyme grabbed the letter off his desk and followed the boy out the door, waving goodbye to the other workers in Unit 10, who were all disappointed that they could not see what the letter had said.
They were not alone in their eagerness to hear what Unit 1 had to say. As soon as Jyme and the boy headed down the narrow stone stairwell, the boy noticed the seal on the letter. His eyes were immediately fixed on it and he stopped walking. "Jyme, that message is from Unit 1," the boy pointed out. For the first time, Jyme looked down to examine it.
"How official," Jyme replied without caring. He put the letter into the pocket of the long black cloak he was wearing and began to go down the steps again. "My work day is over, James. I will deal with whatever Unit 1 wants tomorrow."
"I am sure General Starn just loves you," the boy, James, replied sarcastically, referring to the Unit 1 Captain and the current leader of their world. "You just take orders so well."
"Fine, fine, kill our fun with more work," Jyme replied. Reaching into his pocket, he withdrew the letter and pulled off the ribbon, breaking the Unit 1 seal. The parchment unrolled to show large slanted perfect script. Jyme's eyes scanned the page. James tried to peer over his shoulder without looking nosey, but he could not read the letter from the angle he was at. He eventually gave up and stepped to the side, waiting for Jyme to finish reading. The smile fell from Jyme's face. His blue eyes glanced down the corridors before looking up at James.
"This is a letter alerting every Unit Captain that we have begun eliminating mortals and mortal blood from our world," Jyme whispered. He had a firm grip on James' shoulder and was pulling James down the stone stairway. "Get out, James. Now. Head to Alsatia if you can, they probably have blocked off any escape routes to the mortal world already. Go, and hurry."
"Are you joking?" James asked, unsure. He peered over Jyme's shoulder to read the letter but Jyme shoved the letter into his hands.
"Read it later, James. Just go now," Jyme ordered. He pushed James out the large doors of the Mulbridge Castle, the government headquarters. James nodded fearfully as he glanced the letter over. He was fully mortal; he was probably on top of the hitlists. He shook Jyme's hand a final time and Jyme whispered, "Be safe, friend," as James began to run Northwest, heading for Alsatia, the only land in the Fallamorian world that the government could not control.
Jyme had little time to waste. He waited until James was in the trees behind Mulbridge Castle, the headquarters of the government, before he turned and ran up the street. Only four houses into the village, he came up to the baker's door. The entrance to the bakery was a split door, so the bottom of the door was closed by the top was open, like a window, to see inside.
"Hello?" Jyme called out. He reached his hand in through the top of the door to let himself in. The baker must have gone out, because the bakery was empty. The smell of fresh breads filled the room and Jyme could feel the heat from the ovens. Jyme crossed over the dirt floors and went up the ladder in the back of the shop. "Cassentel," Jyme called as he pulled himself up the ladder and into a small room. The small room had a wooden bed in the corner with some brown blankets on them. On the opposite wall was a small dresser with a bowl and a jug of water on top. Between the bed and the dresser, on the wall opposite the ladder, was a window.
A young girl, only around eighteen, was by the window of the room. It was the only window the room had and it had a view of Mulbridge Castle and the small dirt roads of the village. Jyme came up behind her. He could see the stone walls and large fountains of the castle. Flags of the ten different districts were draped over the front walls, and flags from the many other kingdoms below those.
"Cassentel," Jyme repeated. The girl still did not reply. Her long dark here was spread over her back, reaching down to her waist. She had a purple shirt that hung loosely her small and young breasts. The thin straps of the shirt were tied behind her neck, under her long dark hair. The shirt only reached to the top of her stomach, exposing her belly button and thin waist. She has purple skirt made out of the exact same material as the top. The skirt was along, reaching to about her ankles.
The two stood very still for a long time. Jyme stood tall, still in his uniform. His forest green pants met his black shirt, which was tucked in under his green jacket. He easily stood a full head taller than the girl. Jyme reached forward to pull the wooden shutters of the window closed but a small hand reached up and touched his wrist. Her movement was enough to get him to stop.
"It started," she said quietly.
"I know," Jyme replied. "What do you see?"
Jyme could not bring himself to look up. Blood was unavoidable – it was a war after all. He was tempted to ask whose blood it was, but he did not want to know. Even if he asked, he doubted Cassentel would be honest with him. "I did not think it would be so soon," Jyme finally said.
"It was not supposed to be. Something changed. This war was not supposed to start for another ten years. I would have warned people sooner if I had known." Cassentel was still staring at the castle but her eyes were far off in the distance and Jyme knew she was trying to see the castles future, not its present state.
"What should we do?" Jyme asked.
"Stay. Do not step down as head of Unit 10. The more people we have on our side in the government, the better. A lot of people are going to die on both sides of this war. I can see rebels coming from the west, fighting. They are outnumbered. Did you send James to Alsatia like I told you to?"
"Of course," Jyme replied.
"Then he is our hope. He will lead the army and, with him in command, we cannot lose."
"Perhaps you can talk to General Starn? You know he always values your opinion," Jyme suggested. It was common knowledge in this down that the leader of their world and head of Unit 1, General Starn, was in love with Cassentel.
"Starn would kill even me," Cassentel replied. "War spares no one."
"Now what do we do?" Jyme asked.
"We wait," Cassentel said. She finally turned around to face him. Her dark red eyes looked up at him and Jyme thought back to the blood she had mentioned. "Fate will play out as planned."
"It will be alright," Jyme said. He tried to put his arm around her but she pulled away from him, pressing herself against the wall behind her. Her hand held the windowsill tightly and Cassentel looked to the ground.
"It will not be alright until this war ends."