As the day wore on, the streets of Markus where filled with a vast amount of citizens from its every region. The city was livelier than it had been in weeks. The roaring crowds cheered and gawked at the armored figures before them, marching steadily along to the beat of a thousand boots. Heavily clad were they; row upon row of hardened faces wielding wicked weapons of war. Among them, was Jaxon Gwezel, his young face juxtaposed against those of grizzled veterans from another era.

Only days after talking to his professor, Jaxon had enlisted in the armed services of Markus. He had been assigned to the King's Reach regiment, which was a three thousand men strong. It was led by the nobleman Adel, who wielded Agarthrar, sword of Markus. He was a military man, veteran of over 50 battles. Among the warriors of King's Reach, there was none whom they respected more. King's Reach itself was the military arm of Markus, which was to then join with the various other forces from the kingdoms of Onoradas. However, among all the regiments, none were stronger.

From every corner of every kingdom under the banner of Onoradas, morale was at an all time high. To a land that had been spared from warfare for some time, it was almost welcomed. The scars upon the beautiful landscape had all but disappeared, and the memories of war forgotten.

"Two weeks I say." blurted a townsman. "Two weeks and I'm sure they will know our might and withdraw. I suspect there shan't be more than a drop of our boy's blood spilled, our warriors are so fierce those green bastards will turn yellow and flee!"

A stern face turned toward the townsman. "How old are ye? Lad you spout foolish nonsense! I remember the battle of Red Creek. Those of us from the nearby village had gone to witness it. I will tell you I wish I hadn't! For a week boys and men were torn asunder, the war machine had no mercy. We predicted it would only last hours! And when the fighting reached our village, we had to flee, and those who could not, well they were churned alongside the soldiers. This cry for blood will be answered, and it will take its toll..." The graying Elf then turned back unto marching soldiers, a lifeless stare lingering in his sad eyes.

Jaxon was quite adept physically, and did well in training. However, because war came upon them so quickly, many of the boys that had volunteered where rushed through. Among his peers Jaxon was seen as a bit of a bookworm, and had been unceremoniously titled Schoolboy, a nickname for him popular among those less educated around him. He did not mind however, for he knew he was better than most, and had proved it in the training yard. Once outside the city, the sound of hundreds of cheering voices began to fade away and in its place he found nothing but the stinging silence of doubt.

For days they continued, boot upon the mulch of the earth, steadily westward., with only a few stops to rest. Finally when Jaxon thought he could go no further, the pervasive trees that surrounded his regiment began to thin, and suddenly they were upon a break in the woods. Before them in a valley lay a huge and open field, with hundreds of tents propped and propping. Smoke steadily rose in the distant camp from the various cooking fires spaced all along the camp. The sound was a ruckus of shuffling soldiers, creaking caravans, and communication, much of it consisting of orders being shouted back and forth.

The regiment had finally arrived at the forward staging area Stangenpunkt, and from the looks of it, many other regiments had arrived before them. With a shout from those in command, Jaxon and his crew began their descent into the camp ahead.

"Oy!" said the soldier marching alongside of Jaxon. "Name's Rolland."

"Jaxon, pleasure to meet you." said the exhausted young soldier.

"Rumor has it we'll see combat in the next few weeks. I don't doubt we'll be called upon seeing as we are the biggest power among the houses of Onoradas. Let's stick together shall we? We'll skin a few lizards and win ourselves a few medals!" he said, a sheepish grin spreading across Rolland's face.

A tired and bewildered Jaxon simply shook his head in agreement, a look of surprise clearly etched on his face. He had not made many friends within his regiment as few of his colleagues had enlisted. The doubt and loneliness that had plagued him earlier began to dissipate, he felt that perhaps he could use a friend. At long last they made it into the foreboding camp below. Jaxon's company quickly situated themselves within a sector and began the preparations for war.

It was a few days later in the darkness of night that Jaxon was roused from his sleep. Shocked into wakefulness, he stared into the darkness to see who it would be before him, fearing enemy incursion even within the bowels of the well defended Stagenpunkt.

"Jaxon! Wake up! There are some wounded making their way into the camp. One of our far off patrols were attacked by a mob of Gernen militia. Come, we'll find out for ourselves with what we are dealing with." With that, Rolland's voice trailed off out of the tent and into the dark night. With great haste, Jaxon stood and followed through into a busy camp; lights had been lit and soldiers where still running about, some fetching medical supplies while others were simply curious as to the plight of their fellow wounded fighters.

There were not many, only about half a dozen had managed to make it into the camp. A few of them could not even stand, and had to be carried in.

From among the gawking soldiers, came a familiar face. "Jaxon, I'm glad I found you. It seems they were ambushed a couple of miles west of here by a group of Nondras settlers. It seems some Gernen nationalists and troublemakers do not intend to make this easy for us." said Rolland, his face in a grimace.

"So the rumors are true about the Nondras separatists?" questioned Jaxon.

"Now hold on. No one said anything about Elves being involved. From what I hear they are just a disorganized militia playing soldier, no match for the likes of us." said Rolland, his demeanor quickly changing to a more upbeat manner. Suddenly he grabbed Jaxon and turned him away from the crowd, and whispered, "But between you and me, I do not doubt they may be tied to the separatists, and any Elf sightings would be kept strictly a secret."

"I reckon they don't want regulars like us knowing about possibly facing other Elves in the field." said Jaxon, in a hushed voice.

"And I reckon you have it!" replied Rolland. Soon there was a strong shout from their left, and when they turned to look they saw none other than Knight-Oberst Adel.

"What unprofessional conduct has occurred here? Back to your damn tents the lot of you! Go on! You shall regret the sleep lost on this gawking come morning!" Adel shouted, quickly making his way toward the wounded. The last thing that Jaxon saw before making his way back toward his tent was the strikingly tall figure of Adel as he began to talk to the medical officers tending the wounded.

Before he knew it he was back inside his tent, quickly forgetting the timidly cold air outside as he laid his tired frame upon his thin mattress. Just before he fell into a comfortable slumber, Adel's words once again rang in his head. Ugh, he thought. More training in the morning? Or did he perhaps mean something else?