The war for the Heart of Glass continues. The Crystalline Kingdom was shaken by the arrival of the Fleshlings, sometimes disparagingly referred to as the Meatmen. These ancient boogeymen, breaths of life encased in fragile, contaminating flesh and bone, easily crushed yet impossibly numerous and savage, shook the pillars of peaceful society. Suddenly, ancient religious doctrine was not merely words etched in stone, it was living, breathing reality.
Morever, it was an intrusive reality. The Fleshlings were eager to gain access to Crystal lands and to exploit the various resources the Shining Folk had long used merely as decoration. The Shining Folk did not need many of the things that they found- their innate grasp of the natural energies, flowing through the Heart, were more than sufficient for daily needs. They had no need for food, as the power of the Heart would sustain them and heal their injuries, should they draw close enough.
It also enabled them to perform miracles, such as the conjuration of base materials, producing light and shaping common stone and metal. These abilities made the Crystalline Kingdom livable even for Fleshlings, but it was not these feats that primarily drew their attention.
The Shining Folk did not grow food or produce any of the other goods that the Fleshlings commonly used and needed, so it was perhaps that both peoples could exist in a peaceful state of coexistence. But as described in the ancient scrolls, such a thing was not to come to pass. The Fleshlings instigated conflict with the Shining Folk through their blasphemy and corruption. They asked for permission to lay eyes and hands upon the Heart of Glass itself!
They said they had noble intentions, claiming that the Heart must be some ancient piece of technology, and that if studied, perhaps it could be understood and replicated. No more would the Shining Folk be confined to their Kingdom, instead they could travel and share their knowledge with others, experience the full breadth of creation. And also, they said in hushed whispers, perhaps some of the advantages of the Heart could be replicated for their own people.
It was this, perhaps most of all, that led to the need for the army to be re-established. The Crystalline Kingdom had been isolated for so long, it had long ago been disbanded. Even when the Fleshlings first found the Shining Folk again, it was believed that the constabulary would be sufficient to handle them. After all, an individual Shining Folk was far stronger and tougher than any Fleshling. Their blades and hammers did little damage and though it wasn't impossible for a Fleshling to injure or even shatter a Shining One, it was very unlikely.
Yet the Fleshlings proved us wrong again. They had not just tools of iron this time, but strange devices that produced terrible impacts through a black dust that exploded when touched by sparks.
These new devices, firerods as they were first dubbed by an anonymous Shining One, enabled even small numbers of Fleshlings to pose a real danger to one of our people. A Firerod can fire a small projectile at incredible speeds. It is nearly impossible to dodge and cracks all but the hardest of Mirrorplate.
Furthermore, the Fleshlings that were captured revealed the existence of 'cannon', a type of Firerod carried by a team of their burden-carriers and manned by a team of five or more. These Firerods propel a massive projectile the size of a skull that can obliterate a Shining One in a single, devasting strike. This alone proves what we've always feared has come to pass- the Fleshlings have advanced far more than we ever expected them to, while we remained still. And now they've returned, and history will repeat itself once more...
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