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Preface – The Traces of War Rise Above the Traces of War… “‘Kuan-yin sighed a deep sigh, and recited the following poem: Long ago performed in vain prodigies of valour. In his blackness of heart he upset the Heavenly Peach Banquet; In mad rashness he dared to rob the Patriarch of Tao. A hundred thousand heavenly troops could not overcome him; He terrorized the realm of Heaven throughout its nine spheres. At last in Buddha Tathāgata he met his match. Will he ever again be set at large and win back his renown? ‘Who is it,’ a voice came from inside the mountain, ‘who recites verses that tell of my misdoings?’” – Monkey, an abridged translation by Arthur Waley of Journey to the West by Wu Ch’êng-ên War leaves behind a trace. It is easily noticed. We are not talking about dead bodies or destroyed cities. We are not talking about cratered streets or pockmarked walls. We are talking about the soldiers that live on. We are talking about the confused and violent factions that settle into an uneasy peace. War leaves behind a trace. It can be felt hanging in the air like a taught bowstring. It is a palpable tension that obstinately persists in the hearts and minds of those who fought in a conflict that has now ended. It is found in the displaced refugees that beg for asylum. On Bara Magna, fifteen thousand years have passed since the Core War, but Glatorian and Agori are long-lived. As a consequence, their feuds and grudges are equally long-lived. Each Tribe has isolated itself from the others and they all harbor a mutual distrust. Worse yet are the mercenaries. Most Glatorian were unable to find places in society as village protectors and arena combatants. These despondent individuals have formed roving bands that perform the only service they are skilled in: war. This has been a serious impediment to the establishment of the arena combat system that has been developed in order to avoid future conflict on scales that could endanger entire communities in the way conflicts did during the Core War. Nevertheless, evil is comparatively quick to rebound. The Skrall beyond the Black Spike Mountains have unified a few of these Glatorian mercenary bands with a singular and cryptic goal. The new fighting force, known only as the Harvest Faction, has turned to slave driving in the name of the Skrall Empire. Their attacks have taken them south of the Black Spike Mountains and their advance appears relentless. Unfortunately, the Core War has left each Tribe unsympathetic to the plights of the others. As the Ice Tribe suffers from casualties and abductions on a grand scale, the other Tribes turn a blind eye to the Skrall’s most recent project. Yet, there is a distinct possibility that this conflict could have a dire impact on the future of all Tribes if it is left unchecked. Soldiers live on. Peace is uneasy. Tensions persist. Grudges remain. Refugees beg. Vagabonds rove. The Harvest Faction advances. This is the trace that war leaves behind. ................................................................................ Review Topic