The morning sun had barely risen over the wintry land when the viscount of House Leroa, Albert Lawson, awoke from his serene slumber. The perpetual snowfall dulled the brilliance of the ascending source of light and warmth, and blanketed the concentrated cityscape of Newurn, save the tar streets and cement sidewalks. An underground network of heated pipes emits a constant supply of steam, created through the evaporation of water from reservoirs, upwards and upon the freezing roads. Simple, rectangular homes, all of which are made from red bricks, line the long avenues. Untouched, the whiteness cakes the frame of blinded windows, while patches of translucent ice occupy the corners. The elegant lampposts seem to be the only outdoor objects not affected by the biting weather.
Albert Lawson peered out the cloudy window adjacent to his wall-flushed, wooden-framed bed. The Leroa Manor matched the design of the civilian homes, but was much larger, and separate from the crowd. It had a magnificent, and strategic, view of a majority of the snow-capped hill upon which Newurn was built. City workers, paid by the house, had begun their daily duties: cleaning the streetlights, and shoveling the light snow from the sidewalks. With a final, and quick, glance at the towering reservoirs, the viscount stumbled out of bed. He quickly put on his warm clothing, and made his way to the dining hall.
The elongated hall had no windows, like many of the rooms in the manor. A glass table supported by black steel legs sat in the center, surrounded by chairs of a similar design. The white walls were adorned with old paintings and beautiful ornaments that had been commissioned by House Leroa throughout its rule. A single plate of food was at the end of the table, where Albert sat. Servants wandered around, doing their jobs keeping the manor in order. Albert took his seat and proceeded to enjoy his simple breakfast.
About half an hour later, Gerald Straley, the High General of House Leroa, entered the dining hall, dressed in many layers of heavy clothing. A cook quickly came over and placed his warm meal in front of him, then rushed back into the kitchen. Albert and Gerald exchanged their usual greetings, then continued to eat.
A few moments later, a man clothed in a dark-green jacket jogged into the room, his boots stomping against the wooden flooring. Albert glanced at the man's tired, panting face.
"You're quite late today," Albert said, returning to his food.
"I-I'm sorry, Viscount, but something has come up. A message has been relayed to us. S-something happened l-last night, and there are r-rumors of a war between House Calhouen and House Lane approaching," the man stammered.
The viscount and general paused mid-bite, and gave an interested look at the nervous telecommunications worker, who looked back in discomfort.
"Well, continue. Surely, you don't expect us to understand the situation with that," Albert urged.
The worker took a deep breath before replying. "A member of House Calhouen was slain by Prince Tyren in a duel, allegedly unjustly. Further fighting ensued between the houses' men-at-arms, and now the situation is tense between the two."
Albert turned to Gerald, and gave him a worried look. Gerald returned with a stern expression, then motioned the worker away. The worker bowed, then quickly paced out of the room.
"What do you make of this, Gerald? If this is true... if there will be war... bah, I just don't know!"
"There is little doubt in my mind, Albert, that there will be war. It is no secret that some members of Calhouen strongly oppose the adoption of Tyren. The duel could be the spark that brings them over the edge."
Albert shook his head in disbelief, but reluctantly accepted the situation at hand. "Then, of course, others will be drawn into the conflict. Our weary people's last worry should be war..."
"You're right, it should; but, will it? This is a war between the most powerful on Massen. Many support Calhouen, and many don't. The masses will join both sides in droves. We must prepare."
"No, we'll wait. We'll wait for the king to call a conference of the houses, then we shall decide whether we should put our people on the front lines. Until then, no word of armament to anybody."
The two quickly ended their conversation as the rest of House Lorea entered the dining hall, putting up smiles to hide their stress.