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Fallen Kingdom

This story was written to give someone else homework. I was in the process of teaching someone to work in HTML, and the learning process goes much more smoothly if you have a genuine project to work on. (Plus, it helps to have meaningful text and graphics, instead of just typing things at random.) However, the story also makes use of one the basic functions of HTML: hyperlinks. In this case, the idea was to create a story where, any time the reader lost track of who a particular character was, he or she could simply click on the character's name and have a brief, illustrated biography pop up. To keep the story itself readable, I've removed the underlining from the links, and made them nearly the same color as the rest of the text.

Try it, and see what you think. (If you have a pop-up blocker active, you'll probably have to turn it off.) One of my close friends is working on illustrations for these pages; these will be added as he completes them. This story is a little too short to really need this sort of cast list, but it could easily be expanded...

Fallen Kingdom
Michael Mock
April, 2005

Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three

Chapter One
Once upon a time there was a princess named Iana. Princess Iana lived in a mountaintop castle with her father, King Ilnor, her mother Queen Ilyria, and her brother Prince Immert.

The princess stayed in her castle, studying history and literature and learning to dance and weave and work magic. As a child, she played with the children of servants and soldiers, but as she grew older her parents encouraged her to spend more time with the daughters of nobles.

Two weeks after her eighteenth birthday, a rebellion began in the northern provinces. Wrapped in her studies, Iana didn’t even hear about it for almost a month. It was only after the first defeat of the Home Guard that the Court gossip reached her. Though surprised – she had always assumed that her father was a wise and just ruler, and therefore no one would rebel against him – she was not afraid. Her cousin Valdimar was leading the rebel troops on behalf of his father, Duke Vedrick, and she did not consider Valdemar especially smart.

Two weeks later, her father and brother departed the castleKing Ilnor to lead the Home Guard, and Prince Immert to gain valuable military experience. Princess Iana and Queen Ilyria watched from the walls as they departed. They spent several days in the tallest tower, creating enchantments to aid the Home Guard and protect the King and Prince.

Three days later the Queen died in the night. Investigation revealed that her food had been poisoned, and that the killer – the young Count Bisera – had already fled the castle to join the rebels. Without the Queen’s magical aid, the Home Guard was routed. King Ilnor died in the battle, and Prince Immert was sorely wounded. General Braviri rallied what troops he could, but Vedrick’s army reached the castle before they could respond.

Princess Iana did what she could to help them hold, but Duchess Venaila’s magics proved stronger. As Vedrick’s troops stormed the castle, the Captain of the Guard ordered one of his squads to help the Princess escape, and stood to the final defense of the keep. He killed the traitorous Count Bisera, but at day’s end Captain Morain was dead and his guardsmen defeated. The castle and the kingdom belonged to Duke Vedrick.

Chapter Two
Timaila was one of the castle’s maids. As a child, she had been one of Princess Iana’s friends, and when the castle fell she guided the princess and her men through the servants’ passages to a hidden passageway. They emerged at the foot of the mountain: the princess, her maid, and a dozen soldiers under the command of sub-captain Galen Moorwarden.

Their escape was not unnoticed. Valdimar and his troops continued to search for them. They alternated running and hiding, living off the land to supplement their meager supplies.

Finally, at a loss for better options, they approached Duke Arimil. The Duke offered them his hospitality, but refused to pledge any support. He suggested that Princess Iana might marry Valdimar to end the civil war. At sub-captain Galen’s insistence, they departed lord Arimil’s lands. The Duke offered choice supplies, and his wife help to lay a magical concealment on them, which carried them safely into the marches.

Frustrated by her reliance on others for physical defense, Princess Iana talked Sub-captain Galen into teaching her how to fight. In exchange, she began teaching him about magic. This caused some friction with the guards, who felt that women shouldn’t fight, and the maid Timaila, who felt that men should not work magic.

With Vedrick’s forces still hunting them, they dared not stay in one place for very long. In the Monastery of Filbrecht, they heard news of General Braviri, who still commanded the remains of the army and was harrying Valdimar’s forces with the support of the local peasants. Thanking the monks for their news and hospitality, they quickly departed in search of the General.

A small troop of Valdimar’s soldiers found them first, killing most of the guards and taking the survivors prisoner. The princess despaired, but she had learned enough skill at arms to make her escape – and found Galen in the process of using magic to attempt a rescue. Together, they freed the remaining guards and escaped, leaving the enemy camp in flames behind them.

General Braviri’s men saw the flames, and descended on the camp. The return of Princess Iana in the aftermath of the (short) battle was greeted with considerable relief. Sadly, the general reported that Vedrick had found and cornered Prince Immert’s forces, slaughtering them to the last man. Sub-captain Galen was created a Viscount for his services to the Crown.

Chapter Three
With Princess Iana and the remains of the Home Guard united, several of the nobles came forward to offer their support. Being betrayed and hunted had made the Princess popular with the peasants and merchants – neither group was much enamored of Duke Vedrick or his son. The Home Guard swelled with new recruits.

General Braviri and most of the nobles favored a march on the mountaintop castle of Windenhold, where Princess Iana had grown up. As the Seat of the Throne, and overlooking the capital city of Bildenhart, it would lend considerable strength to their claims of being the rightful government. Princess Iana disagreed, saying that the heart of the rebellion lay in the keep of Duke Vedrick.

With Galen’s support, over the objections of the rest of the council, she took command of one third of the army, leaving General Braviri to take the main body of their forces to assault castle Windenhold. Together, Galen and Iana used magic to make their force seem much smaller than it was.

They met their first opposition just outside Vedrick’s lands, and annihilated the enemy force. Their disguise was now exposed, but young lord Valdimar was occupied with General Braviri and the bulk of the army, and could not come to his father’s aid. Moving quickly, Princess Iana brought her forces up and laid siege to the Duke’s castle. She and Galen fought Duchess Venaila’s magics, while their soldier stormed the gate.

With a final blow, the Duchess fell and the gates were sundered. Iana and Galen took control of the castle. With Duke Vedrick their prisoner, they could bargain for the surrender of lord Valdimar. The loss of Duchess Venaila’s magical help had already begun to tell, however, and the Duke’s son fell in battle.

Princess Iana took the throne and married Galen, and they lived happily ever after.