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New Awakenings; Archaic Crowns Part I

April 17, 2013

    “Do you believe in astrology, general Arahao?” Emperor Tartiis is a tall man, heavy set with wide shoulders. His natural physique would have made him an excellent warrior if his life of luxury had not made him weak and soft bodied. As it was, his ability to hover over you both physically and politically still made him an intimidating man. “No, your excellency.” General Arahao, however, is one of the few men who could match the Emperor’s stature. His life of war had made his body as hard and lean as dried leather. His face, pock-marked and stricken with scars, displayed nothing but the seriousness of the situation.

    “Since the days of ‘The Final Acts’ and continuing to today, the ‘Favoured’ have looked up towards the sky at night.” The Emperor motioned in the general direction of his glass night viewing ceiling. An intricate pattern of lead supports and glass tiles in all shapes and colours indicated the most important stars and clusters.
“On nights as clear as this one we all see the same patterns in the vast expanse of heavenly lights, dominated by a huge, sky-spanning swathe of dim light. The Glira, fascinated as they are by architecture and construction call it the support beam of heaven, claiming that it alone maintains the structure of the planes from devolving into chaos.” The Emperor paused, the floor beneath his feet contained a mosaic of the star signs in brightly coloured stones and shells. Mirroring the sky above, a long graceful streak of white led from one end of the room to the other.
“They are, of course, mistaken. The Mesia, in turn, imagine it to be the heavenly stream that provides life-bearing water between the planes, allowing life to spawn and thrive everywhere.” he said as he stepped carefully around the star signs to the beginning of the room.
“They are idiots.” The Emperor now stood face to face with his general, “But we,” he pounded his chest with pride and repeated the word with emphasis, ”WE know the truth of it. Like the lanterns that light our most busy roads, the stars follow and illuminate the Heavenly Road. And if we look closely and often over the course of months, we can see the Gods carrying star-lanterns and travelling slowly along the road. Even Maran and Noral follow the Road as they eternally chase each other.” He stepped even closer to the general now, “and so must we.” he said, jabbing his finger at the general, punctuating every word. He turned and carefully stepped across the room, following the representation of the Road running between the star sign mosaics, exiting the room through a hidden door. After a few seconds of delay the general simply crossed the room, and followed his master into the next room.

    “This is why we send you to capture the Duchess of Arkonia. Not only did she oppose my wishes, but she failed to follow the Road.” The Emperor sat behind a luxurious desk with his ceremonial sword at the ready. “This was your duty, your part on the Road.” The fleshy hands of the Emperor gently brushed some fleck of imagined dust from the immaculate blade. He picked it up, testing the sharpness of the blade. The warrior in Arahao immediately took notice of his the Emperor chose to grip the sword. In his mind, he already knew exactly how to disarm the Emperor and thrust the blade into his chest. He remained still.
“Your duty, Arahao. Why did you fail your duty?”
“Your excellency, the intelligence reports state the Duchess travelled with but a small honour guard, with at most ten Arkonian Knights. I set up an ambush strong enough to nullify a force twice of what was anticipated.” The general stepped closer. “I fielded elite rangers, both crossbow and short-bow snipers, along with a company of men-at-arms trained and equipped for forest hit and run tactics.” He emphasized his words with rough chopping hand gestures. “Unfortunately instead of a mere honour guard they faced a full platoon of Knights leading a battalion of infantry. Their initial surprise attack took a heavy toll on the Knights, a full half of them died from bolts and arrows in the first strike.” He pounded his fist into his open hand. “But it was to no avail. The remaining Knights did their names proud and the infantry were all combat hardened veterans. After no more than ten minutes the Duchess had escaped and our forces being routed. That’s when the runner was dispatched.” The general straightened out his uniform, stood rigid with his hands clapped behind his back and his eyes focussed somewhere behind the Emperor. “In my opinion, the fault lay with intelligence, but if your excellency sees fit to make an example of me, I will submit to your wisdom.”

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From → New Awakenings, Proze

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