There’s an old, worn parchment pinned to a tree just outside your clan’s territory, half a leap off the downtrodden path you’re on. It flutters in the wind, stubbornly refusing to rip or fade, and you approach it curiously. The script is large and graceless, but there’s a certain flow to the characters that suggests a strong, callused hand.

Steel plunging into flesh and cleaving through bone.

It is always a horrific sound to hear, that crack of snapping bones, the splash of suddenly-spilt blood crashing like a crimson wave against your breastplate as you rip the sword out of the enemy’s chest. The flesh clings to the dripping blade in ragged tendrils, and if you look closely enough, you might see the torso flatten a little as the lungs deflated. If you were a pious man, you might believe that the soul left with the final breath…

Always unnerving to be on the receiving end, to feel that explosion of white-hot agony erupt from the shattered breastbone, flaming down the spine and up into the skull like a crescendo of raw, searing pain. To watch with wide, staring eyes as the swordsman draws his blade back and smiles grimly; to watch him seem to rise above you as you crumple, hitting your knees before toppling backwards.

After a while, the brief seconds eternal, the encompassing agony becomes background noise, a sort of comfortable numbness.

And then, after a spate of nothingness, no-thought and no-feeling, sucking in a pained breath and screaming with the first exhalation because it hurts so much that you can’t think. The lifewalker who dragged your blind, lost spirit back to your half-healed body is standing behind you and urging you up, to take up your blade, to rejoin the fray–

All the while, you’re still bleeding cold blood, and natural magic is whirling around you as the lifewalker channels health into your broken body. You can’t stop seeing flashes of utter blackness, complete oblivion, and you’re shaken to the core that you faced Eclipse and came back from it to see the light of Father’s face in the sky above you.

And the next thing you know, your fingers are curled around the haft of your axe or the hilt of your sword, and you’re lifting your weapon high to drive the blade deep into your enemy’s chest. You watch with a grim little smile as he stares at you in utter shock and disbelief, blood beginning to dribble from his lips as he falls to his knees, and then topples backwards.

That is war.

We are bloodwalkers. We are the soldiers who fall, and we are the warriors who rise again to fight.

My name is Blademaker. Once upon a time, I was a weaponsmith, one of the best. And then the Elderwar intensified and drew even the most peaceful of the Walkers into the bloodbath. Even me.

I have seen the enemy. I have fought them countless times now. I have died and been raised by our healers, our lifewalkers. And I have fought on.

There is no end to the Elderwar in sight. I, and the Lupos, and my fellow Walkers, all fight simply to survive.

It is time to start fighting for peace.

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