The Thulian short sword—the preferred weapon of both the Thulian army and militia—was particularly elegant, bearing a brief proverb or verse written in old style Thulian script. Only sixteen to eighteen inches long, the Thulian short sword was designed especially for close, hand-to-hand fighting. It flared wider and thicker as it went from hilt to tip, so that extra weight would contribute to the force of its blow. Opponents sometimes called it the Thulian hammer-sword, such was the force it would unleash when wielded by a well-trained soldier. Made of slow-tempered Thulian steel, the blade rarely lost its keenness, and never tarnished.

The Thulian longbow, too, was a work of art, long and graceful, and like the short sword, invariably inscribed with a wise saying written in old-style script. The longbow was strung quite tightly, allowing the archer to fire his arrows with great speed and accuracy. A good Thulian archer could fire ten arrows per minute; a company of archers could fire enough arrows—or so it was said—to darken the skies.

For countless ages, the Thulians had been ruled by kings and queens, though ruling is perhaps not quite the right word. The kings and queens of Thulia had long been content to stay in their castles and be entertained by great Thulian poets and singers. The royal Thulian palace was as elegant as can be imagined, having been made by Thulian craftsmen. But beyond living comfortably and making an occasional ruling on some dispute or other, Thulian royalty interfered little in the affairs of their own subjects. Because Thulian royalty, like Thulian commoners, minded their own business, the commoners loved them, and gladly paid the few pennies of tax each year that was required to maintain the royal family in comfort and luxury.

But then, one day, an evil spirit entered the kingdom, taking the form of a princess from a nearby kingdom. The people of Thulia noted that, once she had met and captured the heart of King Grimur, things began to change. Princess Elisar found ways to change Thulia from a rugged, hardworking, and honest land into something quite different.

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