February 12th, in the year 1249 of the First Age of Allura
City of Glanaighre, Kingdom of Aldrain
A brisk, salty breeze whips through the window of a spacious room in the old fortress, a squat stone structure, weathered by decades of wind and water. Philos Annor III, King of Aldrain, rises from his bed to the raucous calls of gulls and the bellowing of sailors loading their ships in the early morning sunlight. Donning a rich woolen tunic against the chill air, he makes his way down into the bustling chaos of the town, where hundreds of merchants, sailors, craftsmen, soldiers, and builders go about their business in the muddy streets of the port. Only a few more days of this teeming city and its mundane parade of meetings, taxes, and petty criminal trials, and then the king will be able to return to his peaceful native highlands. Until then, plenty of time for a walk along the top of the low stone seawall.
Atop the wall, Philos gazes south at the horizon, where the pale gray sky meets the gray waves of the ocean. A line of fluttering white is just visible- a flock of some seabird, perhaps, or foaming waves. From the wall, one sees the frenzy of activity engulfing Glanaighre, the beating heart of Aldrain, straddling the mouth of the river Aighre and controlling the flow of commerce. Glancing up again, Philos catches once again the fluttering white flock on the horizon, but those were not wings or waves. They were sails.
Stretching out as far as the eye can see, a line of ships, some small, swift crafts and some towering warships, comes into focus. Guards on the wall notice it too- they are used to ships, but never so many, and sailing together like this. Philos, a sinking feeling in his gut, walks quickly back to his residence to gather his sword and bow and to don a mail hauberk and a steel cap. When he returns, the fleet is in clear view; hundreds of ships, all packed with men, and advancing rapidly. Purple banners with some symbol on them in inky black flutter from their masts, and their oars chop furiously at the water. With the ships only a few hundred meters from the port, the guards scramble to the walls and the townsfolk retreat indoors. Silently, a volley of arrows sails from the ships, clattering off stonework and splashing into the sea. Several muffled screams prove that a few have found their marks, and a soldier, with a long, heavy, black arrow sunken in below his collarbone, falls to the street below. In the coming years, other soldiers would envy him, for, in war, the first to die suffers the least.