It is cold outside. The rain hasn't stopped for days though the open fire in the centre of the tavern offers you warmth and comfort. The ale is sweet and the smell of smoke reminds you of home.....

For years now you have heard the tales from the bards of legendary leaders and mighty empires. From the one they called the Lion of Macedon, who conquered all the lands to east as far as the rising sun before the age of thirty, only to fall to the treachery of those closest to him, to the evil barbarian hordes to the north who periodically flood the civilised kingdoms in a red tide of blood and destruction.

Tales tell of the mighty Roman Empire, raised from humble beginnings on the backs of its mighty legions. It is claimed that once Rome ruled the land from sunrise to sunset before crumbling and splitting under two centuries of barbarian onslaughts. The darker stories, told by the bards late at night as child and adult alike huddle close to the comforting heat and light of the fire, tell of the evils that aided the barbarians; the misshapen men and noisome creatures who could overwhelm even the sturdiest of yeomen and crush the bravest of knights.

The Roman Empire was supposed to rule for 500 hundred years, but no one in your village has ever seen a legionnaire, or paid a tax to a Roman government. It was all long ago and far away. You are not sure that you believe half the stories anyway, although it would be a marvel to see a real legionnaire - 7 feet tall, with swords of glistening steel and eyes of fire. Or see a Roman road, raised overnight by magic and running straight as a arrow for league upon league regardless of what was in the way.

The tales from history speak of many things, of many kingdoms that have long since passed into dust and of great, fearsome creatures that will tear a man limb from limb with their razor sharp claws. The heroes live on in song - the mighty Pendragon whose banner flew for 90 years in a reign of peace, to bright Brigette of the Bow, who could strike a man down with a single arrow before they could even see her in the distance. The stories are full of mighty lords and ladies, who ruled kingdoms and fought battles, who went on quests to return victorious, who fought and died in battles in far off places.

Always, the stories speak of magic - it is claimed that magic can do anything, but no one in your village has ever seen any. The stories talk of armies raised from the ground, of armies destroyed by balls of fire and lightning striking from a clear blue sky. Some speak of Charlemagne, a great mage and founder of the Palace School of the Triad who taught others his craft and brought peace to the land.

The worst and the best stories are always the ones told in the winter, with snow around the house and the winds howling through the rafters. They tell of the Dark One, who is said to lead the barbarian hordes and fell creatures in an Ages old campaign of destruction against the forces of Light. The tales tell of the great battles against impossible odds - the Two Hundred at Thermopalyae who held back ten thousand screaming barbarians for three days until the forces of the Light could be mustered, but they also tell of the victories of the Dark, when the barbarians hordes of the Mongols sacked Rome and ended the Roman Empire.

But all this is just stories around the hearth, to entertain and amaze, and while away the long winter nights. Nothing ever happens here in the village. It is a peaceful life herding the sheep and tending the crops, with the peddlers every spring and autumn, and every second year a tinker to bring news from far off lands. Often though, you wonder what is at the ends of the roads leaving the village, what it would be like to have an adventure...to see the world...or a city, which are said to hold as many as five hundred people and where every building is made of stone and the streets are paved with gold.

Maybe you will find out one day, after all, this is the Age of Legends...

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