AS Empires #1: Pax Drakana

“My Emperor, I’ve news from the southern front.” an Elven Knight speaks as he kneels before a throne. His garb a mix of white colored robes under lightweight soldiers armor. It’s smooth metal curving to a form-fitting finish. A longsword strapped to his waist. All were pristine without a blemish or stain like the silver ponytail that extended to his hips. He went by the name, Eliezer the Aether Blade.

“Good news I trust.” a deep booming voice responds from the throne.

“They’ve begun their retreat. Our forces are already marching on Calorcena.”

“And the Pharaoh?” he inquires.

“Still within the palace. They’re a proud people and not likely to leave until their last man.” Eliezer raises his head and looks up at his Emperor. “Shall I prepare them for an audience?” he asks for further direction.

“Make it so general.”

With a slight smirk, Eliezer presses his left hand against the floor. A magical sigil appearing beneath him as he fades away in a flash of light. Elsewhere, the Royal family of Gadra Empire fled through the halls of their castle that lay deep within a desert surrounding an oasis that extended from the center of the kingdom into the northern border. A hardy and proud people, they fought and survived under the unforgiving sun to establish their kingdom. Now, they were under siege from an army of Dragons, Elves, Trelza, and even Aizr. Forces united from across Zeratal for a single goal. The conquest of this desert kingdom. A task they were handily succeeding in. The ruling pharaoh, his wife, and young son are forced to retreat from the outer gate to the main courtyard with several guards at their side. Their once pristine gold and tan robes now dingy from the ongoing battle. The ornate headdresses and jewelry they wore now losing their luster.

“Pharoah, please flee to your chambers.” The decorated Warrior orders his stalwart monarch. A scimitar at the ready in each hand to fight to the death in the name of his kingdom. His clothes consisting of a lightweight shroud, a tan shendyt kilt, and a matching vest. Prioritizing freedom of movement and combating the unforgiving heat rather than defense. Not that it would’ve mattered against the Dragons they now fought.

“I’ll not leave my people at the mercy of a tyrant while I live!” he counters defiantly.

“We can find a new kingdom should it fall. But we can’t so easily replace you my liege.”

“Trying to flee?” Eliezer says as he appears in a flash of light behind the group. Preventing them from venturing further into the castle.

“Stand back Pharaoh!” the Warrior puts himself between Eliezer and the Royal Family.

“I assure you I mean you no harm Pharaoh Dakar. I come not as general but as an envoy of Emperor Orcus. He wanted me to make sure you were sufficiently prepared for his arrival.”

“We’re never giving that madman an audience!” Pharaoh Dakar snaps drawing his scimitar. He wasn’t always looking for a fight, but he’d be willing to end one if he must.

“I suspected your response would be that.” Eliezer sighs drawing his longsword. He raises it skyward as the Aether gathers around it. The clouds parting above them to reveal an island floating in the skies above them, hidden within an Aether Barrier that cloaked it until required. “Luckily for you, he’s taken the initiative to come to you.”

“By the Elementals…w-what is that?!” Pharaoh Dakar stares in fear and awe at the floating island.

“Emperor Orcus’ new Kingdom, the land of Elysium. It is supported by his will. The same will that shall soon rule all of Zeratal.” Eliezer smiles, sheaths his longsword, and kneels. The sound of wings flapping can be heard steadily approaching. “I suggest you mind that temper.”

Before anyone else can respond, a tall muscular man standing at 8′ tall flies down on massive dragon wings and lands before Eliezer. His skin was pale with piercing purple eyes, slightly pointed ears, and short black hair. As a man of Drake heritage, he was half-dragon and parts of his body were appropriately draconic. Only his lower abdomen up to his torso and his head remained human. The entirety of his arms and waist down were covered with black scales giving the appearance of a humanoid dragon. His tail reached down to the floor and his massively powerful wings wrapped around his chest like a shroud shortly after his landing. Two thin jet black horns extended backward from the top of his head. A golden headband with Aether Crystals of every hue around the brim adorned his head as the only sign of his status.

“Pharaoh Dakar…” Emperor Orcus says in a deep but smooth voice. “We finally meet.” Pharaoh Dakar tries to utter a response but is too stunned in his presence to say anything. “It’s rude to not greet your guests.”

“The Pharaoh will not have words with your kind beast!” the Warrior remained strong is his defense. His reward is Eliezer’s longsword through the throat. Victim of a thrust far faster than his eye could even follow.

“Tis no way to speak to your Emperor.” Eliezer pulls his blade out of the man. Swinging it to the side to remove the blood, and sheathing it once more.

“Thank you, Eliezer. Now onto the main order of business…” Orcus steps toward the defenseless royalty. “Surrender your domain to me. Join my empire and you will rule in peace.”

“Surely you jest. You offer us to rule in peace after you invade our land?” Pharaoh Dakar musters the strength to defend his family and oppose the titanic tyrant. “We are a proud people and I will defend my home, my family, till my last breath.”

“An apt choice of words.” Orcus says grabbing Pharoah Dakar’s head with his right hand.

“Waitwaitwaitwai-” Pharoah Dakar pleas before his head is torn off in one smooth motion. His body falling lifeless before his wife and child. His wife wept but the child was too traumatized to even whimper.

“You monster!” the new widow cries. She grabs her fallen husbands sword and stabs haphazardly at Orcus. He simply grabs the blade with his free hand and pulls it forcefully from her. Knocking her to the floor in the process. His skin too tough for the blade to even cut.

“Humans…Did you expect this to happen any other way?” Orcus questions after dropping the severed head and sword to the ground. “He claimed he was proud and would fight till his last breath. Were you expecting a man of such conviction to falter? Is the word of Humankind truly so worthless?”

“Please…do what you want with me but spare our son.” she pleads. Orcus just looks down at her in disgust.

“More half-hearted sentiment no doubt.” Orcus lifts the queen off the ground and to her feet with his personal gravity magic. “A pharaoh should not act so shamelessly.” his eyes focus on her like a predator looking down on its prey. “Do not mourn him. You’ve lost a husband but gained an Emperor. One who will ensure your rule is more fruitful and peaceful than his ever was.” Orcus’ eyes glow with Aether as he lowers the new pharaoh to her feet and looms over her. “Your rule shall be under my protection so long as you don’t trifle with me. Any who dare oppose my reign shall be executed. Do not think your current position holds any sway. Should I need to, I will replace you with someone more suited to the task of pharaoh.” With the new pharaoh sufficiently intimidated, Orcus turns and returns to Eliezer’s side. “I expect great things from you. Do not disappoint me.” he gives one final glance as Eliezer creates his teleportation sigil once more and returns the pair to the island in the sky.

The land of Zeratal was a land blessed by the Elementals, the seven divine beings who birthed the Aether. Neith the Wavebringer who brought the tides and the rain. Gaia the Naturebringer gave birth to all animals, the grass, and the forests. Agni the Flamebringer whose flames warmed the planet. Stribog the Airbringers, with gentle grace, made the breeze that both cooled and allowed all creatures to breathe. Charon the Frostbringer created the cold and snow to chill the planet and bring balance to Agni’s flames. Enki the Earthbringer created the land for those who couldn’t swim and a place for those who flew to rest. Finally, Ukko the Stormbringer created the raging weather that called upon the other Elementals and brought change to Zeratal. But being divine creatures, they were unable to directly interact with mankind lest they bring untold destruction. In their place, they each had a single child who would reincarnate upon their demise. The Seven Sages who would monitor and guide the world in their stead.

Tragically, they aren’t perfect and wars constantly gripped Zeratal. Civil Wars were commonplace within each nation but one nation waged a war like no other. Pax Drakana, led by Orcus the Drake Emperor, reigned on high from the island Elysium that was supported by his own power. With it, they invaded the other Kingdoms simultaneously with no fear of counter-attacks. His army was feared by all who dared face it and there was little that could stop it. A fact that pleased Orcus as he sat once more on his throne. Eliezer stood with his hands clasped behind his back formally.

“I’d call this a rousing success.” Eliezer notes casually. “Though decapitation remains a bit…inefficient…as a deterrent.”

“If we show weakness even for a moment, they’ll continue to test our limits. Building slowly into open rebellion which we must not have. I’d prefer we not crush our own people needlessly.” Orcus replies.

“Indeed, I suppose razing all they held dear would be unwarranted.” Eliezer scoff.

“Unwarranted? No, but it is unnecessary. That would send a powerful message but not one I wish to make. This war is establishing our might. Vengeful annihilation would do little to support our cause. Let alone sate your lust for vengeance.”

“Very well my emperor.” he sighs and contains himself before Orcus. Eliezer may have been his right hand and one of his most loyal subordinate. But even he wasn’t safe from Orcus’ wrath should he incur it. “What would you have me do?”

“Continue monitoring the war. Do what you feel is best.” Orcus orders with the utmost unwavering faith.

“As you wish my emperor.” Eliezer gives a slight bow before summoning his teleportation sigil and disappearing. His sigil taking him to the gates of Calorcena where Orcus’ army sat awaiting their orders. They knew the kingdom was now theirs but without the Emperor or a Generals word, they did not risk incurring unnecessary wrath by acting without guidance.

“General, we await your orders.” an Elven archer salutes.

“Gather all those who did battle, both injured and able-bodied in the square.”

“Yes, general.”

It takes less than close to 45 minutes for the Archer to perform this task. Every man and woman in the Gadran Army now awaited their fate in the square of Calorcena. It sat, naturally, in the center of the town several blocks from the oasis that kept them all alive. “Hello, I am Eliezer the Aether Blade.” he begins overlooking the crowd. The civilians stood off to the side watching helplessly as his army overlooked the proceedings. Should they try anything, they would fall. “Since your new pharaoh has not informed you herself, I shall be relaying the message. This war is over. Pharaoh Dakar has fallen. His widow now rules and you all serve Pax Drakana under Orcus the Drake Emperor. Any slight against your new Pharaoh or your Kingdom will be a slight against him. As the latest additions to his army, you will defend our honor. Now, those who were loyal to Prince Dakar step forward.” he scans the crowd. Like their great hearing, the Elves keen eyesight was to be admired. He could see the mixed emotions within the crowd. Some ready to do as he said but restraining themselves, some too scared to move for fear of the consequences, some questioning their allegiance, and a scant few stepping forward without hesitation. “It seems there are some brave souls in the lot of you…Good.” Eliezer draws his longsword, holds it in front of his face with the blade pointed skyward, and closes his eyes. The Aether focusing on the blade itself. “Revo Stigma.” his blade glows with Aether as he raises it skyward. An ultrasonic wave of sound exploded from the blade and swept over the crowd. Most were unable to even hear or notice he did anything at all. But those who did collapse in a pool of their own blood as the sound ravaged their insides. All those who were loyal to the former Pharaoh, whether they admitted it or not, now fell dead in seconds. The sound of cries from the civilians and soldiers were deafening. “SILENCE!” Eliezer shouts stabbing his blade into the ground. “They were fools loyal to a dead monarch. A monster in plain sight you all allowed to rule because of lineage.” his rage churned the Aether around his blade and his eyes looked over the crowd in utter disgust and disdain. “I spared you the Emperors wrath from their inevitable betrayal in the name of a monster. You will all do well to remember who reigns. Pax Drakana brings peace for all…but opposition will be routed.” he sheaths his longsword and returns to his normal formal demeanor. Yet his eyes looked hollow and lifeless. His soul a void that felt nothing for these people he was meant to lead. “Til Shangri-la.”

AS Empires (Flooded)

Next Issue

Aetherius Saga Empires Chapter 2- Shogunate

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