"A Yuva archer of the Houselhold
of the Nizam of Dagad Trikon"

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Illustration by Mason Doran - copyrights Sakshi Pokhari


THE GUARDIANS OF THE HIDDEN CITADEL

Thus it came to pass that even the most formidable military expeditions sent by Hangker to discover the Rock could not reach or penetrate it. The story tells how a few Azuric generals, who were titanic creatures, led devils, goblins and men. They all mounted giant lizards that were crossbreeds between the offspring of dragons and ancient sand worms. The beasts were immensely strong and resilient but the haunting tunes of the Rock music stopped them. Songs of doom, which sent whirling sand storms against them, slowly filled the ether, hid the sun and prevented them from breathing. Most of the soldiers and their steeds suffocated and became buried in the sands, others, somehow, came in sight of the outer rim of the Rock but then, the Nizam unleashed the battalion of his crack troopers, the archers from his Household Guard, structured in six Yuva platoons, who were trained to fight in these storms.
The army of the Rock Avasthas included many seasoned warriors but this leading battalion was composed of very young fighters. These warriors, in whose blood coursed the joy and vitality of youth, would create whirling patterns of deadly beauty as they wielded their weapons, singing terrible hymns of war that pierced the hearts of the enemy with fear. The Yuva platoons, like the Sheravalian riders, had been trained in the arts of the Deep Way. Etakir, the leader of the Yuva platoons, had incorporated the accumulated knowledge of a thousand warriors before him into his understanding of the arts of archery, swordsmanship and war and so too had his friends Lidholon of Anor, the son of the Nizam, Aliskhan the Swift and Hanomkar the Strong, a tall and jolly fellow who was an expert in the beats of the Rasa music. From childhood the Deep Way had taught them how to bond in a psychic manner so that their strength would merge to form a formidable collective power. This force could be used by one and all whenever necessary. So, when the Yuvas were at war, their streams of energy merged to form a thunderous river, which swept aside all opposition like furious monsoon floods.