AS Empires #4: Voice of the Empire

Aetherius Saga Empires (Large Emblem)

Previously on Aetherius Saga Empires… Before the 270th set of Sages roamed Zeratal, the land was consumed in constant wars. No such greater war was waged than the one led by Pax Drakana. Led by Orcus the Drake Emperor, they carve a path of death and destruction in a quest for global conquest. After Eliezer the Aether Blade successfully conquered the Gadra Empire, Caim the Wyvern Knight follows suit in reclaiming the throne of the Myurkyuria Shogunate…

Atlas the Wraith

In the skies of Zeratal, there existed an island supported by Orcus the Drake Emperors own will. The island was known as Elysium. Though in reality, its scale put it on par with a small continent. His castle rested on a large central island surrounded by a lake. The lands around it terraformed by the Dragons that called it home. To the north-west was the Fairy Kingdom of Alteria, hidden safe and out of wars reach. To the south hidden within the forests that lined the southern region of Elysium’s central landmass was the Shrine of the Seven Sages. Though its top appeared to be a simple cathedral, a majority of its structure extended beneath the surface. It’s halls connecting with the caverns beneath. Lit by the Aether Crystals that filled it. There was no discrimination against the religious following of the Seven Sages and many of Pax Drakana’s members would visit here on their off time. Some because of their faith. Others to remind themselves of the Sages failures. But most importantly it had a functional purpose. In the deepest level of the temple was the Aether Platform, a form of teleportation used to transport their men to and from Elysium with ease. While Eliezer the Aether Blade was able to do this freely, the standard Aether Platforms could only work specific linked locations.

Now, only Atlas the Wraith stood within the crystalline room. As he steps on the platform it begins to glow, the Aether humming and responding to his thoughts. Transporting him onto a mountain peak overlooking the tropical Colsana Archipelago. He takes a deep breath. Filling his lungs with the relaxing sea air before walking down the mountain. The Wyverns that called the mountains home were loyal to Pax Drakana and offered no resistance. After 30 minutes, he finally reached the shoreline where he simply floated across the water’s surface. Gliding casually while maintaining his perfect posture and inverted hand pyramid. Within minutes, he arrives at a Mage village. Some wore simple lightweight lavalava skirts while others wore skirts made of a special type of seaweed found only in their shores. All had similar tanned skin and dark hair. The adults all possessing different types of tattoos. Each telling a unique story.

“What business do you have here outsider?” A tall and heavyset man says as he races to the shore to meet Atlas. By his side were several younger men. Some wielding spears while others glowed with azure Aether.

“Hear me, fair Mages. My name is Atlas and I come in the name of the almighty leader of Pax Drakana, Orcus the Drake Emperor.”

“With all due respect Atlas, our Tribes have no desire to take part in whatever scheme you have planned.” The man replies. His defensive stance never faltering before their unusual visitor. Though he spoke sweetly, his appearance was one unknown to them.

“Scheme? There is no scheme oh Tide Lord. I come not with a request but a message. From henceforth, you are all under his divine protection.” Atlas was well aware of Afu the Tide Lord, leader of the Undine Tribes and one of the most powerful Mages on the planets. Strategically, getting him to join them would be valuable. But that was not the mission he came to complete.

“The only protection we need is from the Elementals.” Afu retorts with his chest puffed out in a show of intimidation.

“The same Elementals who protected you from the Kingdom of Or’ion as they seized valuable fishing routes for themselves? Who protected you as the Kingdom of Celestia kidnapped your people to become slaves or soldiers? The Elementals your Order of Xant prays to and serve only to be executed without hesitation in Va’ Sif?” Atlas asks without altering his tone a single decibel.

“The Elementals aren’t perfect, it is why we have the Sages.” One of the young men defends.

“The Sages whose very existence sparked the wars that continue to ravage our land? The Sages who watch idly as nations rise and fall trying to secure their might for themselves? My Emperor has a grand vision for Zeratal. One where the world need not revolve around the Elementals or Sages. Though if you so choose to believe in them, we will not oppose.”

“First you insult us and then you try to get us to join you?” Afu scoffs at Atlas.

“I mean no disrespect oh Tide Lord. Tell me, are you truly satisfied with the hand fate has dealt you? Will you not join us til Shangri-La?”

“Shangri-La?” One of the young women said aloud confused at the word.

“The vision my Emperor has for the future. Zeratal is dying. The Elementals do nothing. The Sages do nothing. Wars never cease. Monsters ravage the land and bandits take advantage of the chaos. Hatred, paranoia, and prejudice consuming all without mercy. My Emperor wants to end that. To create a single unified nation under a single divine ruler atop the floating island of Elysium. One with the power and the will to protect all under his watch. A singular mighty being whose very presence will stem the chaos and madness. An Emperor to lead us into a new dawn where all are equal and those who plan to return us to the dark ages will be purged. The word Zeratal means blessed land but what have the Elementals blessed us with? Pain, strife, and misery without end. But Pax Drakana will make a truly blessed land. We will follow Emperor Orcus till Shangri-La has been realized.”

“I don’t trust him.” One of the young men replies to Atlas’ declaration.

“Dear child, if I did not come with glad tidings I’d have brought an army with me. Yet I come to your land alone with naught but the clothes on my back. Were I a spellcaster I’d still be woefully outnumbered. Nor would I respect your wishes.”

“So you’ll leave us be?” Afu furrows his brow slightly. Fully expecting to be betrayed.

“Of course. My Emperor has no desire to crush your culture by subjugating you. However, as his advisor I find it fitting that I should guide you to the best possible outcome.” Atlas closes his eyes.

“It was only a matter of time till you resorted to threats.” Afu scowls and begins to gather the Aether around him. Though he still had Young Warriors with him, he was prepared to handle Atlas on his own.

“Threat? That would be unbecoming of me. No, I speak only the truth.” Atlas opens his eyes slightly. Raising his head up so he appears to be staring down at Afu. “Though you do not choose to accept it. You are already under my Emperors purview. You can try to flee if you wish. We will not chase you…but there will be nowhere we won’t find you. You can attempt to fight but before our divine Emperor, you will not survive. No matter how many allies you gather we are an enemy you do not wish to contend with.”

“Quava!” Afu calls out. His spell forming a bubble of water around Atlas and trapping him. “If you are really so important your masters will notice you’re missing. Maybe then he’ll speak for himself.”

A week later, and Atlas remains sealed within his watery prison. A living trophy for Afu the Tide Lord who remained in waiting for Orcus to no avail. As Atlas remained in his perfect stance, Afu returns to his prisoner with a bowl of rice and fish. His hand extending into the bubble easily. Atlas, however, does not move.

“Won’t your Emperor be upset if you died of starvation?” Afu asks slightly concerned. “Or does he even care at this point? He doesn’t seem to have noticed you’ve gone missing at all.”

“If my Emperor wishes for me to die then I will gladly sacrifice myself.”

“You’re insane.”

“Perhaps…or perhaps I’ve just a good reason to have such unwavering faith in him.”

“Tide Lord!” An injured fisherman runs up to Afu and collapses before him. His left shoulder bleeding from the arrow piercing it. “Pirates…they attacked us on the northern coast. I’m sorry Tide Lord I…” his eyes well up with water. “I was barely able to save myself.”

“It’s okay Keani. I’ll make sure to avenge your friends.” Afu assures him with rage behind his eyes. Being attacked by pirates wasn’t an uncommon occurrence. But losing tribesmen, especially the young, was never something Afu could get used to.

“You don’t understand!” Keani pleads as he stops Afu from heading to the shore. “They had spellcasters. Powerful ones. We didn’t know they were there until we couldn’t do anything about it!”

“Thank you, now go and see the healers.” Afu orders while walking off to the north. “All warriors prepare for battle along the northern shore!” he shouts. His voice easily carrying on the breeze. A dozen men and women hearing his call to arms and readying themselves accordingly.

“Tell me, child.” Atlas asks Keani who was still trying to catch his breath. “Did these pirates flag bear the crest of a shattered Aether Crystal?”

“You know them?” Keani asks preparing for the worst.

“They’re quite a formidable pirate force. I wonder if your Tide Lord knows what he faces.”

On the northern shores, Afu stood ready with his warriors to defend his home. In the past when pirates had attacked their home or fishermen it was always a single crew. Yet now there sat a fleet of five massive Galleons, each filled with over two dozen crewman. All bearing on their sails the emblem of an Aether Crystal shattered into several pieces. The Mages were now targets of the Crystal Bane Pirates. But the Tide Lord was not deterred.

“Together now.” he signals. “Qualdor!” he leads the warriors in casting their spell. The water begins to churn as the Aether creates 13 whirlpools. Each placed in a way that’d force the fleet to stop their advance or change their course and head west towards the sea stacks. No matter how skilled the navigator, they’d surely sink amidst the many jagged rocks. Being Tier 3 spells of the highest order, all but Afu waits for the pirates response rather than continuing the assault. “Hyvarugar!” he casts another Tier 3 spell, summoning a massive hurricane around the pirates. No matter how many they had, he planned to wipe them out in a single blow.

Despite the great power he possessed, the Crystal Banes were equally formidable. The spellcasters across each boat acting in unison without even needing to vocalize it. Together they cast Lux Umargon, another Tier 3 spell. When one casts it, the sky will rain beams of light upon your enemy. One would be enough to raze an army but with over four dozen working in unison? The skies shined like a divine beacon. Blinding the Mages and leaving them defenseless to the assault. The village and its people being bombarded by lasers of light hot enough to burn through a diamond. Even the Tide Lord was no match for such an assault. He was a master of water magic but they lacked true defensive spells.

“Oh dear, this is quite the predicament.” Atlas casually notes before stepping out of the water bubble that surrounded him as if it was never there in the first place. “I suppose it’s time I took matters into my own hands.” he begins humming to himself as he floats to the northern shore. The sky continues to rain down lasers around him. Laser after laser destroying building after building and incinerating poor souls not quick enough to evade them. After a minute of hovering, he arrives at the northern shore where Afu stood with the 4 warriors who still remained alive. “Hear me, oh Tide Lord.”

“What the hell?!” Afu says to himself in shock and confusion. “How…”

“In your time of need as your home is razed and your people killed. Where are the Elementals? Where are the Seven Sages? They are nowhere to be found. Though you shun us like a spoiled child…” Atlas speaks elegantly as a beam of light rains down on him only to be deflected to the side harmlessly before reaching him. “Pax Drakana stands by those in need.” he finally breaks his stance. Moving his left and right hand apart. Breaking the reverse finger pyramid. The trail of his long coat twitching in response. “We will not abandon you.” he raises his hands slowly as his blade-like trail detaches from his robes. Begin to float skyward as they’re revealed to be 10 longswords. Once his hands are held on level with his face and palms facing the sea, the blades float by his side. “We will reap divine judgment on the unjust who would harm you.” he spreads his fingers as the blades begin to separate slightly. He then lowers his fingers so they’re facing the ocean. His blades soaring out the sea like arrows. With each subtle motion of his fingers, the blades twist and curve through the air. Spiraling in and out of the hull of each ship. Piercing the crew’s flesh and the sails alike with ease. Not even the winds of the hurricane slowed his blades. Atlas then turns his hands so the palms are facing the sky, causing his blades to fly skyward. He then clenches his fists as they soar into the sea, raining down on the fleet and decimating them. In less than 30 seconds of his arrival, the fleet was eliminated with no survivors. Finally, Atlas returns his hands to their normal reverse finger pyramid. His blade trail returning to their rightful position as he tilts his head to glance at the awestruck Afu. “And we will show no mercy to our enemies.”

Seeing Atlas in action Afu realized that from the very beginning, even as an Advisor he never needed Orcus or even an army to conquer them. That for the last week he was humoring them. Swallowing his pride, he kneels before Atlas. “Please, allow us to serve under Pax Drakana.” Afu had no desire to serve another but if it meant protecting his people, he’d do anything. If Atlas alone could defeat a fleet that bested him and his finest warriors, what sort of monster was his Emperor?

“My Emperor will be very pleased to hear this oh Tide Lord.” Atlas smiles disturbingly with his eyes closed. “I shall send for aid to help in rebuilding your town upon my return.” he turns to Afu and leans slightly towards him so he’s looking down upon him at an angle. “Now, let’s go meet your new Emperor.” He says through sinister squinted eyes. Knowing that without needing an army or even threats he successfully got the Undine Tribes to follow his cause. Knowing that now they had the mighty Tide Lord in their ranks and that there was no way he’d be able to escape his grasp…

Next Issue

Aetherius Saga Empires Chapter 5- Prince to the Throne

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Aetherius Saga Empires Chapter 3- The Wyvern Knight

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