I. It was the screaming that woke her. Cries of fear, anguish, and agony scoured Callissa's mind, tearing through its veil of dreams. The cacophony was worthy of nightmare, but its hardness bespoke reality. She leapt from her bed, hurling the sheets aside, and moved to the balcony. Hell sprawled before her gaze. Melops was aflame.
II. For ten years Callissa had defended her beloved city, guarding its walls and its lands against those who coveted its wealth. None could say how many warriors had died to her blade, how many hundreds of enemies. Only their champions, the great men and women she had met in single combat or in the mist of the fray, were remembered -- and even those merely served to mark chapters in the mighty warrior-woman's tale. Yet now Melops lay dying, doomed beyond ever her power to save it. The city had been betrayed, its gates opened by treacherous hands.
III. Callissa tore herself from the balcony. She shrouded herself with rage to smother her anguish. If Melops was to fall, she would fall with it -- but not before she had made the invaders and traitors pay a heavy price for their perfidy. She donned her armor, girded her sword belt around her waist, and seized her ashwood spear. Death awaited her in the streets, both others' and her own.
IV. Blood daubed the paths and walls of Melops. The invaders' spears had pierced the breasts of young and old, man and woman, armed and unarmed alike. A myriad of massacres seemed to stare at Callissa from everywhere she turned. But the city was not yielding its place in the world without defiance. Other warriors had gathered, throwing together a desperate resistance, forming haphazard ranks and hurling themselves at their foes. So Callissa plunged into the melee, taking her station at the head of her people, and began to deal destruction.
V. The warrior-woman's fury was boundless, an ocean of rage that drowned all before it. Foemen met their demise at the end of her spear one by one, skewered like chunks of meat ready for the cooking fire. Callissa screamed her war cry, calling the heavens to witness her end. But it was not to be. For as she slew the last foe before her, and prepared to charge off in search of fresh victims, a man staggered from an alley. It was Pareus, ruler of Melops. Blood ran from a dozen wounds upon his body, staining his garments with the dark crimson that foretold the coming of death. But his eyes were strong, his glare intense, as he seized Callissa's arm.