Along the border of Purnesia and Sistina, a giant wall had been erected as a defensive measure against possible invasion. Stretching from one end of the continent to the next, the main entryway that granted access between the lands was Fort Valga, nestled along the western side.
The wars in the past involved a collection of regions who ran into conflict, prior to the formation of Sistina and King Reginald’s reign. As with many wars, it started off over a dispute of resources and the lands that contained them. In this case, the presence of magic stones had grown increasingly in demand, due to their usefulness in crafting magic tools and for channeling mana that people were not born with.
As a result, the region where a generous vein of mana resided was monopolized by a group of people living there. Flourishing off the magic stone trade, their coffers grew fat and their armies swelled to giant proportions.
The other regions that made up the future Kingdom of Sistina looked on in envy, feeling that they had been robbed by not sitting on a literal gold mine. Secretly, they formed alliances in order to stand against the prosperity of these Purnesians.
With sheer numbers and little warning, the combined regions fiercely attacked them, forcing the Purnesian residents out of their home. The cheers for stolen wealth and the greed of the regions’ lords caused them to go even further, pushing the previous inhabitants up to the northern region, where only a barren wasteland awaited.
Unprepared and forced on the run, the Purnesians crossed through the narrow plains north of Minsk and continued to flee, until they were no longer pursued. Finding nothing there, they realized how difficult it would be to thrive in an area so poor of mana as their entire livelihood had been built upon lands that were rich with it.
Equipped with the remnants of their magical weaponry, they charged back, sparking numerous bloody clashes which drenched the plains crimson and littered the bodies of the dead upon the trampled grass.
Discarding any thoughts of mercy, the citizens of Purnesia ravaged the allied regions’ forces, despite being heavily outnumbered 5 to 1. The might of their weaponry possessed by nearly every Purnesian was on par with the best magicians and soldiers anywhere.
As long as the Purnesians could return to lands in which mana could be harnessed, their weaponry would continue to operate in the hands of anyone. Their magic stones would continue to inflict numerous casualties until one side was completely destroyed.
Seeing that there was no choice but to cut them off their energy supply, the allied Sistina made a giant push northward. One final skirmish resulted in chasing the Purnesians much farther north than before. Buying themselves extra time, the allied regions decided to build a wall where mana started becoming scarce, placing a fort there to ward off against further attacks.
In this strategic location, they had plugged up the only path south that was easy to cross. To the west, a short distance of thick forestry abruptly yielded to a rocky shore, where the rough seas began. While there were lands even further to the west past the waters, it was forbidden to step foot there. Those lands were known to be cursed, and from a distance, all that could be seen was white sand, devoid of any life.
Stories of travelers who dared to land upon its shores resulted in them dropping dead within several steps of walking upon its surface.
As a result, ships that tried to travel south past the wall would be easily spotted, given that it was impossible to detour through the Western Deadlands.
To the east, murky swamps filled with poisonous and flammable gasses dotted the area until it reached the mountainous lands near Sanshiro. Traveling through that place was suicidal as a simple Fire spell would turn the area into a giant blaze that would roast anyone within.
Building a wall right before these swamps created the perfect defense. A soldier that spied invaders from the north could hurl a fire stone into the area and barbecue all the invaders.
For this reason, a strong defense centered around Fort Valga was enough to deter the Purnesians, who lost the method to regenerate their exhausted magic stones. Without their powerful tools, they were nothing more than normal people.
Stuck in a barren wasteland where barely anything grew, their morale gave out, resigning themselves to merely clinging to survival.
What little mana could be harnessed, they made sure not to squander it. Their tools were adjusted again and again, shaving away anything extraneous and made as efficient as possible. Emasculated and hungry, the people still held the fire of revenge in their eyes. And as the seasons turned cold and bitter, they did everything they could to ensure their survival. As such, the Empire of Purnesia was founded upon near-uninhabitable conditions, a stepping stone in hopes that they would rise up again in the future and reclaim their former home. Believing in that gave them the will to live on.
In the meantime, the remaining regions to the south, now free of the Purnesians, turned upon each other. The various regions wanted to stake their own claim to the rich resources, effectively ending their alliance, not even a decade after its creation.
However, one person brought his hand down before things turned sour. Reginald Ferdinand, a powerful warrior and magician, grabbed the advantage by forcing several region leaders under his wing through sheer might. Quickly, people banded together under him with the prospect of joining the regions to form a complete nation, one that would share the resources.
The Kingdom of Sistina was thus formed, and its new king, Reginald Ferdinand de la Sistina, went about annexing the regions in the area under his banner. He never rested until the territories that were claimed in the present day had been conquered. Only when he reached his 40s did he settle down in Engelberg and produce heirs.
In the meantime, the northern border wall was monitored, but rarely, any activity was shown. The Purnesians had barely enough strength to survive, much less create a viable force for invasion. At most, spies and various magical creations would break up the monotony of guarding the northern border, possibly stemming from black market goods managing to leak to the north in small quantities.
However, a full-scale assault was near impossible, despite how fervently their desire for revenge burned.
At least, that had been the mindset for nearly five decades.
Slowly, the cogs of time did turn for the Empire of Purnesia. Once their new livelihood was established, their resources slowly accumulated; their strength started growing.
The knowledge of crafting weaponry and making efficient use of the miniscule resources in their environment flourished and was passed down from masters to apprentices. And with that, the fervor of creations that would propel them from their dreaded livelihoods.
In contrast, the Kingdom of Sistina balked at the weapons created by their once enemies, embracing in the raw talents of people and their own skills instead. Those of importance made themselves known by their personal capabilities, rather than be aided by tools that anyone could use. What started as a personal snub at the mindset of Purnesians became an elitist view that commoners shouldn’t hold the reins of power.
For that reason, King Reginald found himself quite conflicted about the various inventions that his daughter gave her heart to. Her creations paralleled the exact efforts that the Purnesians were known for, and many of the older nobility who had experienced the previous wars frowned upon it. Nonetheless, he allowed her to continue her craft, albeit somewhere in secret.
But eventually, her imagination grew too wild, and her reach to the people became too widespread. King Reginald’s attempts to restrict her abilities – by first, training Oswald as his heir, and later, marrying her off to the King of Macali – had proven futile as the efforts of a certain Electi had spurred her resolve.
As he laid upon his deathbed, leaving the kingdom to his son, he fervently hoped that his daughter’s creations would not come back to haunt her. He prayed that there would never be a day in which they would be aimed at his kingdom.
Unfortunately, the ‘Mad Empress’ had that exactly in mind.
Her ears perked up, and she licked her lips in anticipation as the news of creations by ‘Katsys the Inventor’ seeped through to the Empire of Purnesia. The members of the Empire’s court snickered at Sistina’s return to magical weapons, a culture that was already ingrained in the hearts of Purnesians.
The Mad Empress looked to the side, where her summoned Electi stood. She saw the man, who she had named Lamps Magellan, slowly nod in understanding of what had been created in the adjacent nation.
Lamps had been summoned from another world, one filled with ‘modern day’ technological advancements. The man himself had been intimately involved with the design and creation of various inventions there, becoming a CEO of a hugely renowned tech company. Able to apply his keen intellect to the differences of how this world operated, it took him hardly any time at all to decipher proper imitations of the tools crafted before him. And in some cases, he could improve the capability even further, astounding the genius crafters residing in Purnesia.
And not long ago, the drawn blueprints of Queen Katalina Bastia de la Sistina had shown up in front of him, a present tossed over the wall from a spy on the other side. Within the span of days, Lamps had improved the design. Even the poor-quality magic stones harvested in Purnesia could adequately power the portal gun, albeit with lower capability.
Without a high-quality stone, only a portal of the size in which an average person could crawl through was manageable. However, that was sufficient to start the beginning of their plans. The entire empire’s resources were devoted to constructing these tools.
The Mad Empress called up 100 men, each equipped with freshly-made portal guns, and had them march toward Fort Valga.
In the cover of night, small portals hovered above the top of the wall that separated the two nations. The small mana signature that they emitted was hardly strong enough for the soldiers to detect.
Swiftly and silently, those portals moved into position, finding the unguarded backs of those stationed there. All at once, daggers emerged from the entryways, stabbing into the uncovered napes of the men. Only a slight flash of blue, emitted from a tiny gem embedded into the handle of each dagger, gave hints of the ominous invasion. Hardly lasting more than a moment, a simultaneous chorus of thuds then echoed along the wall as bodies collapsed to the ground.
With the absence of detection, neither status nor equipment mattered in this world, a fatal weakness that could be exploited.
With the guards taken out, the invaders crawled through their portals and emerged in their new location. A single glance forward at the lush kingdom that lay before them, compared to the forsaken one that they called home, was all the motivation they needed to continue their mission.
Using the portals to look beyond every corner, they sneaked into Fort Valga and started assassinating the inhabitants inside. Although they had the element of surprise, alarm bells sounded throughout the area eventually. But by then, more than half of the guards stationed there had been slain.
Even with the alert that enemies had broken through, the remaining guards were unable to defend against dozens of portals flying about and knives stabbing them all over. The panic of dealing with an unknown enemy appearing out of nowhere drained their morale and forced them into leaving themselves open.
Within an hour of the mission’s start, the last dregs of resistance had been taken care of. The fort was now theirs.
One man, dressed in a dark cloak and wielding a dagger dripping with fresh blood, waved a triumphant fist to the sky. His name was Raganoff, the leader of the Dark Hand – the 100 scouts that were specifically trained for this occasion.
His men had spent only a few days familiarizing themselves with the ‘portal gun’ before executing their mission to take down Fort Valga, where a merchant bearing a load of magic stones would soon arrive. That same merchant had discreetly launched a bottle with re-drawn blueprints of that very invention over the wall, where Raganoff had sent one of his men to risk his life trudging through the swamps to retrieve.
However, Raganoff couldn’t be any more thrilled at this moment. His men had taken over the key location that had locked his fellow countrymen out of Sistina – the symbol of hatred and banishment for them.
After opening the back gates, a few of his men brought forth several filled sacks, which were tossed to the ground. Its contents, magic guns still lacking a proper energy source to operate, spilled from the opening.
All that was left was for the merchant to swing by and drop off the magic stones. And then, there would be a set of special weaponry ready for another thousand men waiting to arrive.
In Sistina’s own lands, rich with mana to restore themselves, they would be armed like an entire army of ‘Inventor Queens’.
This was the start of their redemption. For all that they had been made to suffer.