In a town called Pastel – a place as rugged and colorful as its namesake – there was a terrible battle once fought. It was the first of scores of battles that the town would see; neither the largest nor the bloodiest, but the first no less, and the one that sired all the rest for certain. This town was not an ordinary sort – nor its occupants. One would expect based on the name and its constant state of inter-capture that the place were a grand, fruitful city and gloriously abundant in natural resources, food, water, and shelter. And perhaps it was true that it was fruitful; but not grandly so – for it was built on a very clay-ridden expanse of what were otherwise luscious plains. And it was true the city was abundant in resources, but its keepers generally sold their extraneous things for a modest fee – no more than a commoner would afford himself with a satisfied smile. The real reason for the invasions I will explain in a moment.
Whilst content and sated by their land they neither picked pocket or took recourse to the sword as a means of living. That isn’t to say they were bad on investments or kept their swords dull, but they didn’t trifle with others. Who are they, you ask? Why, none other than the Rouke. Some would call them ugly – maybe a bit bug-like – whilst others with a more diverse sense of beauty might consider them quite handsome and even possessing a wolfish look. Whatever the impression, they were much like humans, but possessing much tougher skin and plated armor, as far as aesthetics are concerned. Where a man’s face would naturally curve into the nose and mouth, a Rouke’s face was largely flat. Facing one directly, you would find two beautiful deep-seated eyes on the backdrop of some dark and dismal color, in turn perched atop high cheek bones, which stood over a notched and somewhat beak-like mouth, which often distinguished itself with an accentuate chin underneath.
These people were wise beyond their years – full of craft and written knowledge, and rich in verbal lore. Commerce was more a sport than a means of living, as the tricks of economy and wealth-making came naturally to them. The Salviaforans for many ages had alleged that this derived from the Roukes’ genes and “specialized breeding” – but to be truthful it came from their traditions. A frugal but healthful lifestyle that omitted the pursuit of bread and circuses, with a preferrence for living that produced calloused hands and polished hearts. For a time, they were quite literally a pinnacle of civilization – a great house on a hill if you will. In spite of being a small settlement in a big world they were a joyous and revered people. Like a chain stretched to its limits however, there came a point of severe trial where this people and it’s weakest elements were held taut: one link destined to shatter. On one end there grasped the hand of a violent invader who saw their wealth as an extortion of others rather than the inherent reward of fair trade. Somewhere near the other end – close to where the chain was imbued by time and tradition into a wall of stone – a single link of idealism was corroded under a misunderstood and falsified idiom of liberty. Alas, these people once fair were not just facing separation from one another, but annihilation altogether – weakened in heart and pulled away by war.
But here I digress – I said there was a reason for the grip of war. Well the answer is not terribly short, nor at all times pretty, but who asks for an answer and doesn’t expect it in its full capacity, nonetheless without fibres of grief or magnanimous chagrin intertwined with the truth? That much I must assume you came seeking anyway, as that is the nature of this tale. So where does it begin already? Same town, same people, in a time where people no longer freely smiled on the street or shook hands, or bowed out of genuine emotions other than fear or guile. All of it was originally seen through the eyes of one child, recounted by her own writings, and affirmed in word by those who knew her. Her name was “Orra”.