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  1. Early May, 1218 PAF A quaint, summer breeze blew through the port town of Salna. One of the smaller ports that dotted the coast of Glacies, and certainly one of the quieter ones. Or rather, it tended to be so. Recently, Salna had been quite lively, but in ways that the residents hardly appreciated. Hardship was something that Glacians simply accepted as a fact of life. Salna was no exception; only being a town and stable due to their favorable location, but that favorable location turned into a curse as Islexian pirates sailed into port, and began to make a mess of things. Islexian pirates were hardly anything new, but Salna was so small that the people never thought that they would land there. It had always been thought of as something that happened at larger ports, where the pirates would try to intercept goods, and give the residents hell. Salna was hardly a place that saw large shipments, and was hardly lucrative, but they came all the same. What the people of Salna failed to understand was that hatred need not be logical, and the Islexians detested Glacies. More accurately, they hated what Glacies had done; both their refusal to join them against the Lufirians twenty-six years ago, and their subsequent alliance with the Lufirians. Any chance to get back at the Glacian “traitors” was worth it to some. The port militia was ill trained and prepared to deal with the pirates, and was easily overrun. The Glacian military, still in its infancy, was unable to respond in any meaningful time. Glacies had always been able to afford to be lax, due to its natural barrier of the sea. Unfortunately for them, times were changing; the Islexians were slowly gaining better mastery of the seas, and were becoming bolder. They were targeting merchant ships at a much greater frequency, and success rate. Without a proper military, Glacies had to fall back on one of the few things it always could rely upon, its mercenaries. Even before Glacies had become the magical haven it was nowadays, it was its mercenaries that gave the country its start. It would be those very same mercenaries that would come to Salna’s aid. They called upon a mercenary outfit from one of the nearby towns, a group called the Iron Tigers. Fairly well known for their stellar track record in dealing with Islexian pirates, they were the immediate choice. Salna’s faith in the group was well founded. The encounter was short and quick; the pirates were dislodged from their foothold, routed and then handed over to the Salna militia. While it was clear what would happen to the pirates, the point was moot to the mercenaries. They’d come to protect the town, and to collect their pay. The lives of the pirates who saw Glacians as less than people were no longer their concern, especially because the pirates saw the Iron Tigers as even less than normal Glacians. The Iron Tigers were also known for another reason; being one of the few successful mercenary outfits that employed humans, Lufirians, monsters and the Clouded, or those of mixed heritage. The Islexians saw the Lufirians, monsters and the Clouded as affronts to nature that needed to be eradicated. Pure, unadulterated hatred, a hatred that was shared with much of the continent, if more tempered in other cases. To be anything other than human was to be marked for death in the eyes of the Islexians. But that was neither here nor there, the Iron Tigers were mercenaries, nothing more, nothing less. With the job finished, they were informed that their payment would arrive at their base, once everything in Salna had been set straight again. Their commander was informed of both the sudden increase in Islexian activity, and the sharp decrease in any shipments from their chief trading partner, Lufiria. With all they could do exhausted, the Iron Tigers set out for their home base in a small town not too far from the capital, Halkeginia. They returned late at night, deciding to leave their formal debrief until the following morning and would use that day as R&R. But not a single one of the Tigers would have ever expected that this quaint mission would be their last before being handed a request that would change all of their lives.
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