When the attack came, on the 13th day of Honolos' Moon in Year 1126, the people of Lower District 7 of the city of Gandrell had no hope of protecting themselves from the vicious onslaught of monsters.
The walls protecting the lower tier of the city were brought down by the brutal strength of several Behemoths, and the local authorities could do nothing to stop the assault.
A young man named Caspar Windhart's life would be changed that day, for he would be caught right in the middle of the attack.
Sixteen years old at the time, Caspar had just returned from hunting outside of the walls and was headed towards the markets to sell his catches to one of the merchants, an older man by the name of Stu who had become a close friend of Caspar's over the years, often giving him discounts on food and other necessities.
But while the unassuming young man, not small but not particularly tall for his age, with his athletic build, unruly dark blue hair and intelligent eyes, these a brighter shade of blue, was heading through the smelly, overcrowded streets of Lower District 7, the most impoverished part of the Lower Tier, disaster struck.
The sound of the walls being broken through was loud enough to be heard all over the Lower Tier, and probably on the two tiers above it as well. It felt to Caspar like the earth was shaking beneath him as time seemed to slow down and it began to register with the people around him what was going on.
"It… It couldn't be!"
"Seven protect us, it's happening again!"
The wall! Caspar's first thought was of his family, Mom, and everyone back home… I need to keep them safe!
He dropped the bag which contained the bodies of the birds and rabbits he had struck down earlier that afternoon and began to sprint towards home. But his sprint was slowed down by the waves of panicking people all around him, all going in different directions, most with the same thoughts in their heads as the teenager did; thoughts of their families and loved ones. The people of Lower District 7 didn't have much, but what did have was each other- Most people bore only good will towards each other, as they all faced the same struggles in life, but when it came down to it, they valued their own families or friendship circles more than those on the outside, just as anyone else would. Right now, that was more evident than ever as people pushed each other to create distance between themselves and the walls or to get to wherever their families may be.
Caspar didn't have time for this… His mother was sickly, and his siblings were all a lot younger than him, the oldest other than him being his eleven-year-old sister Juni. He knew what he had to do…
All the years he'd spent living on these unforgiving streets, shoplifting when he failed to catch enough prey and running from angry merchants, as well as escaping from local criminals and punks trying to steal from him, had given him a knowledge of the city's rooftops and alleys. Using these would help him get to his family quickly-
And so he climbed as if his life depended on it- He supposed his life actually did depend on it, but his own life wasn't very high on his priority list right now, as all he could think about was his mother and siblings. Once he got on top of the nearest stable enough rooftop, he began sprinting again, and leaping from rooftop to rooftop, not wanting to look behind him at the chaos that was sure to be unfolding now that the walls had been breached.
Damn Higher Tier assholes, he thought angrily, This wouldn't be happening if those stupid officials hadn't skimped out on wall maintenance funding for this District…
He knew this wasn't the time to be cursing fellow citizens of Gandrell, who would be in just as much danger soon if the monster assault couldn't be quelled fast enough for them to reach the higher tiers. But it made him angry to think that they had enough to survive on while practically everyone in his home District struggled so hard just to scrape by.
Not now, Caspar…
He dropped down from the rooftop he was on and continued on foot, now arriving at the slum area he called home.
"Mom!" He called out, "Mom, Juni, Kaiden, Rina!"
He hurried towards the shack they called a house. Sure enough, his mother was there, laying in her bed, looking paler than he'd seen her in a long time. He had her dark blue hair and her eyes, as well, but she was much fairer and more frail-looking than he was.
"S-Son…" she whispered faintly, and Caspar knew she was using all of her strength just to speak, "Wh…What's happening… Out there?"
"Monsters…" Caspar said, "They broke through the walls Mom… People are dying…"
For the first time, having been so caught up in the relief that no harm had yet come to his mother, he realised that only his youngest sibling, four-year-old Rina, was there, sitting in the corner of the room, trembling in fear.
"A-Are we gonna be okay?" The tiny, green-haired girl whimpered.
"Y-Yeah, Rina. We're gonna be just fine…" Caspar came over to her, picked her up, and carried her over to the armchair next to their mother's bed, "I'm going to go find Kaiden and Juni, and make sure they're safe, okay? I need you to be a brave girl and take care of Mom while I'm gone. Can you do that, Rina?"
Rina wiped away tears and her look of sadness turned to one of resolution. Even she knew that her mother's condition was extremely serious, and stressful situations like this could spell disaster for her, "Y-You got it!" She said determinedly.
Caspar ruffled his youngest sibling's hair fondly, "I knew you could do it, Rina. If anything happens to Mom, I need you to run over and get Dr. Callen."
Rina nodded, and Caspar turned to go out the door.
It was his mother who had spoken. Caspar looked back at her, "Yeah, Mom?"
"In the box… In your father's room… Take the weapon…"
Caspar nodded. His hunting knives wouldn't be much good against a monster, if it came down to it.
He headed to the room his father used when he was back home for storing his stuff. In here was a large cardboard box. When Caspar opened it, he found that it was mostly packed with old books about Crystalium, but for one thing. An ornate sheath, in which dwelled the finest-looking sword Caspar had ever seen.
This was no time for a weapons buff like Caspar to be geeking out about a sword, but he couldn't help it. He unsheathed it to find a blade of pure white, with a gold hilt adorned with several slots for Crystalium gems to be held, of which only one was currently occupied with a blue gem, which Caspar recognised as a piece of Water Crystalium.
Crystalium, huh… I wonder if I'd even be able to use it… He recalled from having read one of his father's books that the magical force known as Crystalium could only be used once a person had undergone special training of the body and mind, and if an untrained hand attempted to use it, severe physical and psychological damage could be caused. One generally had to be licensed to carry a Crystalium weapon, at least here in Gandrell, but he knew of criminals and others who had unlicensed Crystalium weapons even here in Lower District 7, even though Crystalium gems were significantly rare.
He shrugged off his doubts, with resolve in his heart that if he needed to use the Crystalium in the weapon, he would, regardless of the consequences on his body or mind. Protecting his two missing siblings was of the utmost importance to him, and everything else came second.
He began to rush out the door, sword now sheathed and strapped to his back. He gave his mom and youngest sister a final look of confident resolve, as if to say "I will be back". Words were beyond him right now… He felt a fear in the pit of his stomach unlike any other, while at the same time asserting to himself that he would let no harm befall Kaiden, Juni or any of his family. He knew that if his father was here right now, he'd already be out there, fighting hard as a member of the Spire Guardian Corps, the elite warriors who protected Gandrell, as well as the entire nation of Spire. But he was on an important job abroad, and had been for several months now, which meant that his mother and siblings' lives were…
In my hands.
He was back on the grimy, rickety rooftops, this time facing the carnage in front of him. He'd never seen monsters as big as the Behemoths that had been leading the charge; giants with red, sometimes green, skin, carrying vicious-looking clubs, with unintelligent-looking eyes which now gleamed with malice as the hulking beasts swung their spiked clubs and destroyed houses with single blows. On the ground level there were Jaergen, wolf-like beasts which could grow to the size of a human adult, as well as imps, wicked creatures capable of magic, and goblins, intelligent creatures who seemed to be ordering the more animalistic Jaergen and imps, all the while causing destruction of their own.
I've never seen a monster horde this large… Caspar thought to himself, It seems as though… They're all working as one cohesive unit…
This thought terrified him, but it was true. There did seem to be some kind of organisation to the chaos. Had the monsters really planned this attack themselves? Or was there some force that was pulling the strings and had orchestrated the attack? Caspar knew, again through his father's books, that this wasn't entirely impossible. Either a more intelligent monster, or perhaps a powerful human mage, could have been behind this…
…And that possibility made this situation a lot more deadly. He needed to find Kaiden and Juni, before they were swept up in this chaos. The howls of the Jaergen and the sounds of buildings being smashed to bits by the Behemoths' clubs only spurred the boy on in his desperate search. He scanned the streets with the eyes of an expert hunter, who over the years had honed his skills to the point of a near-100% success rate when it came to tracking prey.
But those were animals in the woods, Caspar reminded himself, These are people, in a sea of about 6000 other terrified people…
He grew more and more desperate the longer he spent searching, and the further the horde of monsters breached into the District. By this stage, he had noticed a few Guardians amongst the crowd, both fighters and mages alike. The fighters wielded Crystalium-powered weapons, and the mages used Crystalium-adorned rings to cast powerful magics. As he sprinted across the rooftops, Caspar saw them fighting back against the hordes, and most of the beasts were no match for these elite warriors and their powerful weapons and spells. This gave him hope. If he couldn't find and protect his siblings, maybe a member of the Guardian Corps would.
He had no idea how much time had passed when he heard a familiar voice.
"HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLPPPPP! SOMEBODY HELP!"
This young, petrified voice stopped Caspar dead in his tracks. It was Juni's voice!
"Juni?!" He called out to his sister, "Juni, where are you?!"
But he got the answer to this question on his own as he looked frantically around, and his eyes locked with his eleven-year-old sister, who had eight-year-old Kaiden clinging desperately to her, tears falling from his eyes onto the dirty cobblestones of the central plaza, where all around them, monsters were attacking bystanders and a few Guardian Corps members did their best to protect their citizens.
Caspar knew what he had to do.
He drew his father's sword and leaped down from the rooftop, rushing towards his siblings, but leaped back in surprise as a monster charged towards him. A Jaergen, its white pelt coated in red stains which Caspar could only assume was the blood of someone he lived alongside in Lower District 7, stopped him in his tracks, snarling viciously and sizing him up, eyeing his blade as if calculating the risk in attacking him.
Then, as if the creature knew he was only a fledgling swordsman and had had no formal training, only occasional sparring sessions with his father or some of the other local would-be warriors around his age in the District, it leaped at him, fangs bared, and the young man's body instinctively went into fight-or-flight, adrenaline kicking in…
…He jabbed the white blade straight through the creature's exposed neck, and it gave a howl of twisted rage and agony. He pulled the sword out and dark blood spurted from the hole he had made, and the creature dropped to the ground dead.
M-My first time killing an actual monster… Caspar thought, but he had no time to pat himself on the back. Heart still racing from the Jaergen's sudden attack, he hurried towards Juni and Kaiden.
"Caspar, thank the Seven!" Juni, wise and mature beyond her years, and usually not one to show emotion, hugged him tightly as he approached them. He knelt down to her level and returned the hug, pulling a still-weeping Kaiden into his arms as well.
"Am I glad to see you two," Caspar sighed with relief, "Come on, we need to get out of here…"
When he released them from his arms and stood back up, he noticed that Kaiden had a look of astonishment and fear on his face, and turned to see what he was looking at.
There, lumbering towards them, club in hand, smashing every building in its way, came a hulking, red-skinned Behemoth…
A/N: Hi there, and welcome to my newest project, Guardians of Spire Volume 1. It's a fantasy tale, about a group of heroic individuals known as the Guardian Corps, and their endeavours to protect the world in which they live from evil. I know I don't have the best track record when it comes to finishing the stories I start, but I will do my best with this one, as I'm really excited to write it and see where it takes me. The structure and certain elements of this story, which will become clearer the more the story gets underway, are heavily inspired by certain video games and anime, as well as the works of another author on here, TheFairReviewer. I really recommend his works, and I'm grateful to him and his stories for getting my creative spark back and giving me the urge to write again. This has been a really long author's note, so I'll quit rambling. Thanks for reading and have a great day!