Flowers of War
The world echoes in the dimensions nearby. Mass movements of people, strong emotions in the crowd, the grave loss of many souls, they all get imprinted on the fabric of reality. The Cities of the South faced one of the largest challenges to their status quo in the Rose War. Masses of people were turned against one another through charm, deception, and hate. Thousands were lost, maybe hundreds of thousands.
The turning point happened at the battle of Herman's Wall. A squad of allied soldiers had set up defenses on the wall. They knew the main force of the horde could turn on them but it was not judged likely by the generals. A wizard assigned to the squad, Avast, didn't trust that judgment and opened a portal to a nearby dimension. He sent 2 soldiers to get a weapon from a druid he knew. The weapon was a potion that would dissolve the charm. However, this was a trade he had been hesitant to commit to until he saw fate coming for him and the squad that day.
Breaking the Horde
The soldiers returned with haste and the arrows of the entire squad were coated with the potion. As Avast predicted the Horde changed its direction and headed directly for them. On the top of the wall, the captain of the archers marched among his soldiers and called out commands. If you listened for a minute, you could hear it wasn't just commands but encouragement and hope. "We are here for different reasons but all know the way we live our lives will be threatened if we don't stand up to the horde. It is time to break the spell of the horde. We choose to make a stand here. We will not break them just with our arrows but with our act of defiance of defending this wall. This is where we change the fight." Each shot became a story aimed to unravel the unsurmountable force outside the wall.
The arrows started flying one after another. The fiends below the wall that were hit by the arrows stopped in their tracks. They couldn't remember why they were at war. It was like the wave of the horde hit rocks on the shore. A roar went up from the valley in front of the wall. Fiends and friends became intermixed and confused. The fierce but small squad of Allied soldiers rained 200,000 arrows down that day and night. They delayed the horde's movement.
In the end, they could not stop the horde and had to retreat. The horde lost more that day than soldiers, they no longer had cohesion and the charm continued to dissolve with every day that passed. The battle at Herman's Wall had broken the horde and the Cities of the South eventually won the war.
The trees had leaves but each had a faint glow. The ground had grass but it was radiant and soft. The forest was lovely and alien at the same time. The air was cool and fresh, a slight breeze whipped up leaves and raced across a crystal clear pond. The daisies basked in the setting sun. It was a small contingent of flowers, not common in this part of the forest, and very lovely. It had been painstakingly cared for by the spirit of this place. She would hop from tree to tree and check on her garden making sure all was well.
The spirit would watch the goings-on of the world around the garden. There was cruelty and malice in the greater world. The others said the things of the outside world did not need to be bothered with, she was to be guarding this place and raising her daisies. Some of the daisies were yellow and brilliant. Some were purple and regal. A few were fiery and red. The spirit loved those daisies.
Grey clouds started filling the sky every day. The daisies weakened but the spirit kept them growing. The Lord of the land came to see the daisies one day. "These are the flowers we need for the trade. They will not be useful here much longer anyway." He looked around at the land imagining the great things he was going to do. The spirit of the place launched from her tree and whipped the lord across the face. "This is our domain, you may not take these flowers." The Lord looked a the spirit, a scar already forming on his face. "You forget your place spirit. This is my domain to use as I see fit."
The flowers were picked, crushed, and dried into a powder. The Lord of the land touched the scar on his face "You will learn your place and pay a price for your little revolt." He crushed the spirit with his hands and scattered it across the pond.
The potion was something Avast had been requesting from the coastal command for some time but as an untested theory, it was never approved. He took the steps to construct it himself but was missing several critical pieces. He had reached out to the druid to locate some of those pieces. She had a price. First, he had to commit to moving to the backwater village of Etonia. Second, he had to deliver 300 fingers from the horde in a wooden box.
Both were delivered that day. The wizard and druid knew the other would eventually return to the deal so the exchange was quick. Avast understood there would be unintended consequences but the urgency of the moment moved him forward. The move to Etonia seemed less of an issue the longer the war had gone on, he was ready to step away. A quiet library where he could study would be a great retirement.