Why I chose this piece: You thought I might like it...and I did.
This does remind me of my work. This genre is my favorite to write (although I don't include fantasy) with its heroic knights and damsels. However, the first part was a heavy dose of dialogue. I identify with deep, psychological conversations--you may have noticed that--but also realize not everyone does. I understand that it introduces the characters and plot (very good, btw) but begs for some sort of action other than walking around a room. Unfortunately, I don't have the answer (yet) on how to correct that. Restructuring, perhaps?
The other issue is repetitive dialogue. Sometimes I find, while writing, that I can't quite express what I want my characters to say. They'll end up talking until I get that "one" point across. As an example, from the second part:
“Well of course it’s a good thing! Your nobility’s what makes you such a likable guy. How you've managed, for so long, to hold onto the idea that this life has any meaning or purpose is… admirable. But war is about life and death, not imaginary things like love that only exist in children’s stories. It’s time to put aside sentiments. The ultimate rule on the battlefield is survival of the fittest. Looking out for number one. Don’t get me wrong, your nobility’s great. After all, it’s what got you here. All I’m saying is you can’t count on it to get you back home alive. You understand?”
The blue repeats while the bold is the essential part. I have hundreds of similar examples in my early work. The first chapter had a bit of that as well, the whole get-to-the-point factor. You signified that Arlea wasn't herself and then the conversation repeated it. It's a simple edit, but it does help to be mindful of it while writing...
What I didn't like: Honestly, the prologue. I generally don't like them anyway. I actually liked your description of death--very powerful--but it's a harsh way to begin. The narration changes too, from first-person in the prologue, to story-teller in the first chapter and then to third-person Hestus. I don't know if I'm being told a tale or witnessing it "live."
Plot & Character:
Plot: Very simple, as of yet. Defending a nation against an invading evil. I got the impression that it is only a canvas on which a much deeper, philosophical story will be painted.
Characters: Well-described. I understand and sympathize with Arlea. I liked Halden for some reason...he was easy to relate to. I'm actually the most hazy on Hestus. I'm curious as to what makes him tick... Sure, love is a strong motivating force, but can it change a man completely? Doesn't he have any selfishness left? I actually have a similar character. [Here I go again, comparing you to me... oh well, bear with me...] Basically, my character can't do wrong. His main flaw is being too self-less, too heroic. He happens to be my favorite character I've ever invented. Unfortunately, other people say he's boring, no personality, unrealistic, too perfect, a wet rag, etc. I've tried re-inventing him without altering his heroic natural but it doesn't really work. He's still boring... Anyway, Hestus could have ulterior motivation and faults rather than just love and selflessness.
Lastly: I'm assuming you haven't focused much on this story recently, being busy with your other one. It does have potential and I like that you apply a deeper sense of life into your writing. Good luck writing on!