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Calabim Tales: A Composition

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Stories & Tales' started by Ekolite, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. Ekolite

    Ekolite Deity

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    The Ascension of Lord Agron


    A series of short stories written for FFHNES.



    FFHNES is a game being played on this forum, based on the world of Fall From Heaven, the well known mod for Civilisation 4. In the game I am playing the Calabim, a nation of complacent peasantry ruled by Vampiric Overlords. We are an isolationist people who tend to see the rest of the world as lowly barbarians, for many ages our ways and traditions have become so ingrained into the Calabim way of life that although many outsiders see some of our practises cruel and unneccessary our people are mainly happy to comply. Our ideologies made our nation one of the most stable in all of Erebus until recent times where the Calabim Embargo and the betrayal of our allies have damaged public confidence in the government. However, with the end of the Alexian Era at hand, maybe things are about to change?
     
  2. Ekolite

    Ekolite Deity

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    Leaving Al-ash-ir (Part 1)

    Agron moved swiftly through the caves of Al-ash-ir, he knew his masters would want to hear his news immediately and it did not do to keep them waiting. The ice was gone! He thought to himself as he sped agilely across the cave floor towards the lights on the far side of the cavern.

    As he drew closer he stared up at the Palace that climbed the wall of the cave right up to the ceiling. He now made his way through the narrow streets of the city of Al-ash-ir, which in the tongue of the Calabim means ''Teeth of the Vampire'', referring to the stalactite-encrusted ceiling of the cavern which loomed over Calabim homeland. Agron observed the small houses around him, and watched the people of the city going about their daily business under the shadow of the Vampires' palace. Fitting, Agron thought. The fellowship taught that humans were made to serve beneath Vampires, and so it had always been. The natural order of life. Vampires above Humans, Humans below Vampires.

    However, although many outsiders would surely consider this life in a poor light, serving beneath the House of Calabim was not all that bad, particularly when you knew how to play the game. You kept your head down, and did what you were told to the letter. You did everything they asked to the absolute best of your abilities, no matter what it was, and made sure you maintained their favour at all times. This was how Agron had obtained the rank of Arkagoi, the highest non-military caste of the human populace, equal in authority to the much-feared Moroi, and had been promoted to an Inspector of Trades. A remarkably high position within Calabim human society. Of course, effectively his job was to give the Vampires a ''reason'' for which to legitimately kill a citizen. Usually, someone who had been reported for speaking out against the government by the Haloi spies hidden within the city.

    Today he had been inspecting some mushroom gatherers who were suspected for being part of a humanist secret society. Today, Agron had reported them guilty of poisoning the mushrooms they had been planning on selling to the Palace kitchen and had gathered so-called ''evidence'', which he would add snake's milk to later. Of course, even if they had poisoned them they would have had only the smallest effect on the Vampires, but such was life. He was not proud of his actions, but knew he had no choice. His high rank could be stripped like the dropping of a stalactite, sending his life crashing to the ground.

    Thankfully, during his covert integration into the group, they had not revealed any signs of humanism. If they had, their charge would be far greater. Of course, even without the treason, they would still die. They, and their families, would simply vanish. Abducted in the night by the Moroi brutes and dragged up to the Palace, where they would be branded ''Kraltavoi'', the lowest, criminal, caste and dumped unceremoniously into the Feeding Pits, a series of tunnels and caves dug out of the rock beneath the palace, with only one way out, guarded by Moroi at all times. Here they would live lives of fear, never knowing when a Vampire would grow bored with the Aristocracy and come down into the pits for some time out. Here they would rape, torture and then finally kill their prey, and it was Agron's job to make sure the pits remained well stocked with victims.

    However, compared to the punishment for Humanism and Treason, this was nothing. Had there been any solid evidence of either, a Hunt would take place. Agron shuddered to himself as he climbed the rough stone steps to Alexis's chambers. A Hunt was the ultimate symbol of Vampiric dominance over Humans, when every vampire would leave the Palace with a personal body guard of Moroi and kill and feed upon anyone found to be Humanists, anyone suspected to be humanists, and anyone they personally didn't like, just as a Predator hunts it's prey. The message was clear, and the morning after the Hunt there was always a wave of loyalty and servitude displayed in each and every citizen. Humanists were hated by both the Vampire Aristocracy and their Human peers.

    As Agron reached the door of Alexis's room he hesitated a moment before entering. He hoped his news would outrank the obvious disappointment She always showed when he informed her that there would not, in-fact, be a Hunt taking place tonight. He took a deep breath, and opened the door.
     
  3. Ekolite

    Ekolite Deity

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    Leaving Al-ash-ir (Part 2)


    Agron leapt hurriedly down the Palace steps. His Mistress had been very specific, ''send Yrain''. Yrain was the Commander of the Moroi, and perhaps the highest ranking human in Al-ash-ir, as a personal favourite of Mistress Alexis, he was expected to receive the gift a some point within the next ten years. Some, however, suggested that such a man was simply far too useful to be integrated into the nobility. He was ruthless and brutish, and handled the Moroi with an iron fist. He had led countless successful raids on Humanist suspects, and never during his reign had anyone escaped from the Feeding Pits. Agron always resented working with him, and tried to avoid it whenever it was safe to do so, still, their paths crossed all too often for Agron's liking. Now it seemed that Yrain would be stealing his thunder and leading the first expedition to the surface. Sometimes it seemed there really was no justice, so much for promotion.

    He entered the Moroi Feed Hall, and was as always hit by the strong smell of body odour and the noise of shouting and guffawing within the hall. ''Barbarians.'' Agron muttered under his breath in disdain. Still, no one could deny that these beastly men were very good at what they did, namely quelling each and every minor uprising with unmatched efficiency, and striking fear into he hearts of the Kraltavoi. They inspired great loyalty in the Human population and each and every boy between the age of 7 and 12 aspired to one day become one. Of course, few made it. The Moroi were the best of the best, elite, and were hand-picked by the Vampires or the Commander.

    Agron made his way towards the far table where Yrain was seated with his second-in-command, Kratos. Unusually for a Moroi, they were not shouting the odds at each other but immersed in a hushed conversation, which was drowned out completely in the background noise of the hall. Kratos was a terrible man, the size and shape of a bear with long, matted hair, almost as beastly as the man he served. Agron hovered a pace or so from the table, waiting to be invited to take a seat. Yrain saw him approach and quickly ended his conversation and made a signal for Kratos to leave. He shuffled to his feet and Agron took his place at the table.

    ''Commander,'' Agron began, ''You are summoned by Mistress Alexis.''
    ''Did She give a reason?'' Yrain's voice was strangely sharp and clear.
    ''Does she ever?'' Agron replied jokingly.

    Yrain did not seem amused, but left immediately. Yrain was tall and muscular, and move civilized then many of his men. A man truly destined for the gift. Agron sighed, there was nothing he wanted more then to be accepted into the ranks of the Aristocracy, yet despite his high status he was treated like a slave. He picked up a spare chicken leg from the now vacant table and chewed on it thoughtfully as he made his way back to his quarters.

    Agron had not been asleep an hour before a loud knocking on his door awoke him from his slumber. He dressed wearily before bidding them to enter. It was a servant boy. ''Ulau'' he said, which was how the lower society acknowledged and greeted their human superiors. The rough equivalent of ''sir''. ''Mistress requires your presence,'' he began to recite, ''it's urgent.'' Agron thanked him and sprinted towards to the stairs to the Upper Palace. Kratos stood on guard before them. Most unusual, the Palace was never guarded inside. He nodded in acknowledgment and grunted ''Ulau''. Again, unusual. No Moroi worth his weight in blood would ever admit inferiority to an Arkagoi, despite the fact that by law the Arkagoi were higher ranking.

    Agron leapt up the stairs and knocked on the great wooden door that marked the entrance to the Chambers of Alexis. There was a sharp call of ''Enter!''. He took his ritual deep breath and opened the doors. He made his way into the room, looking left and right for his Queen. He suffered only a moment of confusion before he felt teeth fall down upon him, and Alexis quickly tear through his clothes with inhuman strength. The Gift! Determined to make the most of it, Agron turned and kissed her passionately. Her black dress fell away to reveal the stark contrast of her perfectly white body. She was beautiful beyond anything Agron had ever seen, how he had hoped for this day! Ever since he was 15 he had dreamed of receiving the Gift from her. Vaguely he wondered what she had wanted Yrain for earlier, and hoped it was not for the same reason he now lay upon his Mistress's bed. That would be the icing on the cake. Achieving immortality before the Yrain! He shook such thoughts away as Alexis now caressed his naked body. This night would be one Agron remembered for the rest of his soon-to-be Immortal life.
     
  4. Ekolite

    Ekolite Deity

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    Politics (Part 1)


    Lord Agron smiled slyly, showing his pointed teeth in all their glory. Although he was now a Vampire, he had stayed on at Internal Affairs and immediately rose to the top, displacing his human predecessor. Rank truly had its privileges in Calabim society. Internal Affairs had previously been concerned only with the chasing of criminals and the general burocracy that resulted from running such a rigid and well-ordered society. But Agron had plans. After numerous ''meetings'' he had become Queen Alexis's clear favourite, and in the Empire the Queen's favour was everything. Internal Affairs was now practically the ruling party, and Agron was practically in charge. Of course, this caused some tension with the Nobleman's Council, who had traditionally been the ruling body, but his favour allowed him to brush them aside on many issues concerning the Empire. One thing that Agron didn't control, however, was the problems and situations that arose on a local level, these were decided either by the Nobles involved or by the Council, and as a consequence he was now seated at his place in the Council, with all the Noblemen and women, in the midst of a long-extended feud.

    Agron had been carefully playing both sides of the feud for many months prior to the Council meeting, working on a divide and conquer strategy aiming to gain even greater power on the Council. He now sat silently at the Queen's right, overseeing the events and barely hiding his amusement. The Council Chamber was a large room, rectangular but rounded at the far end. It was separated into many different levels, with higher ranking Nobles and Government Bodies traditionally occupying the highest levels, or ''seats'' as they were called in the government. Both the men and women of the noble families sat in the Council, in their family's seat, and families traditionally acted as the ''parties'' of the government. These parties did not vie for leadership of the Calabim, that was the Queen's job alone, but instead for local control of their territories, as well as influence over foreign relations, and in the past, Internal Affairs. Lord Agron was not particularly popular in the Council, as he had been quick to gain power over the past years and was expected to start shaking things up a little, however he was a dangerous enemy to make.

    In the low centre of the Chamber, a young Lord was speaking. He was the new head, or Uhro as it was known in the Calabim tongue, of the Daternii Family, following the suspicious death of their previous Uhro, the young man's Grandfather. ''...As such, the Daternii Family demand the rightful return of the village of Gheiraen to our control!'' he now finished his speech. Another Vampire stood up, he was old beyond imagination, although naturally he didn't really show it. Some Vampires never left politics, and these were always amongst the best in the business, leaders of the most influential Noble Houses. It was utter madness for this upstart to take him on, but under advice from Internal Affairs, he had, and it was looking like he might just win. ''The Rhorntii family are the rightful owners of Gheiraen! The village has always been a core part of our territory.'' The Council stirred uncomfortably. Haeron, the younger Vampire, had presented a pretty convincing argument as well as some fairly conclusive documents that clearly showed that the village was originally owned by the Daternii, and that it was usurped the Rhorntii in past years. A second man stood up, also from the Rhorntii seat. The Governor of Gheiraen. ''This argument is irrelevant. I will not leave!'' All around the Council, quiet murmurings confirmed what Agron had been hoping for. Although young, Haeron was the Daternii's Uhro, the man who opposed him now was a mere Village Governor, and despite his family's greater influence, it was still no way to behave in civilized society. The Council was filled with hushed talk as the argument reached some kind of mutual ceasefire. Above the noise, Agron heard the ancient Rhorntii Uhro addressing the Governor of Gheiraen. ''I told you to leave it to me!'' He hissed, ''Do you have any idea what you have done?''.

    Lord Agron sat back in his chair, relaxed. Today he would destroy one of his primary opponents, and tomorrow a precedent would have been set. The Records controlled by Internal Affairs were full of situations like the Leadership of Gheiraen, and with a few more confidence boosts like this one to the weaker Noble Houses, more and more people would be prepared to challenge them. The council's best politicians would soon be overthrown. The outcome would, of course, be a weak and disorganised Nobleman's Council, which would bow to Agron's every word. Lord Agron leaned towards the Queen to ask her who she supported in the matter. ''I think it's time we got rid of that old dog.'' She replied, spitefully. Influential politicians were the Queen's greatest danger, Agron knew from the beginning that she would take any chance she could get to remove a few of them. ''I couldn't agree more, your majesty.''

    The next stage in proceedings was the vote. This was a chance for any other nobles with an opinion on the situation to try to sway the Queen's opinion. Technically, she didn't have to listen to them, but it was important that she remained on good terms with the Council. The argument bounced back and forth, a lot of the more influential Houses supported the Rhorntii, but many others came to the agreed that the village should be transferred to the Daternii. Some seats were divided, where Vampires in the House supported different parties. For Agron, it was always good to see seats split. A House had far less influence when it was divided. The governor of Gheiraen remained silent, he noticed.

    Eventually, Alexis raised her hand and the conversation quickly died down. ''The village of Gheiraen will go to the Daternii.'' she said, decisively. She then left her throne, walked down the stairs to the Chamber floor, and out of the back door. As soon as she left, the Chamber erupted with the sounds of a freshly opened argument.
     
  5. Ekolite

    Ekolite Deity

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    Politics, Taxation, and a Love Triangle.


    Lord Agron sat, amused, at the round table of the Internal Affairs conference room. Also sat at the table were several of his employees, and Asterna Lae. Agron had always loved Asterna, even as a human. She had a warm, golden skin tone, that had at one time caused her family to be investigated for Empyrean heresy, and long, dark brown hair. Her eyes were the colour of warm honey. Perhaps the exact antithesis of Lady Alexis, Agron considered. At one time, Agron had considered asking her to accompany him to dinner, but he had decided a woman so accomplished as her would never consider such a lackey as he. Of course, the tables had turned, and he was now on top, but still he had not made a move, fearing that if Alexis ever found out, he would lose her favour, and thus his political influence. Still, he knew she understood, and he knew she loved him too. Only Alexis kept them apart.

    However, now, he looked at her, stunned, his mouth had dropped open and his eyes were wide.

    ''You want me to tax the Nobles?!'' He spluttered.

    ''My Lord, the Empire needs money.'' She replied earnestly,

    ''We have humans, why not raise their taxes?''

    ''They have no more money to give, they are already taxed so heavily...'' Agron could hear the compassion in her voice.

    Agron sat back, and closed his eyes, trying to think. Asterna was unfortunately right, he knew she was right. The only problem was that, despite the fact that they could well afford to be, no self-respecting noble would ever pay taxes. They preferred to make token ''donations'', in return for government favours. The nobles would do nothing without an incentive.

    Agron sighed heavily, ''You are dismissed,'' he told the others, ''Asterna please stay a moment.''

    The other, lowly, members of Internal Affairs, stood up, and filed out of the room. The door was shut, and Agron knew that the Moroi on guard would ensure they would not be disturbed.

    Agron stood, and paced in front of the burning fire. He was pleased to notice that Asterna seemed flustered now that she was alone with him.

    ''Do you have any idea how the nobles would react to being taxed?'' He asked, sternly. He did not wait for an answer,''My position would be destroyed!''

    ''But my Lord, not necessarily. I have thought it out, some.''

    He remained silent, in invitation for her to continue.

    ''You see,'' she said, eyes fixing on a point somewhere between his feet. ''I thought we could present it as a kind of donation, like the nobles are accustomed too. It would only be a one-off sum. Then, at the same time, we leak the fact that we have discovered more dirt on the Great Houses. Like, for example, did you know that the late Lady Herrtia, of House Korouen, was not even a vampire! ''

    ''What?''

    ''Her husband, Lord Jokein, faked her gift. They were in love, but Herrtia told him she would never become a vampire.''

    Agron physically gasped. ''If that ever got out...''

    ''They'd be destroyed.'' She finished, ''the whole House would be, and House Korouen is one of the largest in the Empire, 27 nobles. Each of them would pay to have this secret protected. We have in our Archives two eye-witness accounts of the faked gift, and a recording of a conversation between Lord Jokein and Herrtia.''

    ''And you have more like this?''

    ''Lots more.''

    Agron slumped onto an armchair by the fireplace. He was amazed. Asterna was brilliant, and he loved her even more for it.

    ''This could work, you know.'' He said, finally. ''And... It could work even more in our favour. This could destroy the influence of some Houses entirely. I take it only a few Korouen know about Herrtia?'' He continued without letting her answer. ''They would never forgive Uhro Jokein.''

    ''That is correct.'' she answered, almost gleefully. ''It will only benefit your plan in the long run.''

    ''Our plan'' he answered, lovingly.

    ---

    The next day, Agron woke early, dressed, and left his room at the Palace. He strolled around the Palace grounds for a long time, until he came to a lake, one of the four. He looked around, and appreciated it's tranquil setting. He often came here when he needed to relax after a busy day, or to think over his next move. He sat at a bench, and looked out over the water. Presently, the pleasant, warm breeze, appeared to stop. The atmosphere, for only a moment, felt stuffy and suffocating. The water birds and crickets were muted, if only for a second.

    ''My Love?'' A voice called out, quietly.

    He turned, Alexis stood a little way behind him. He was surprised to see her outside. As far as he knew, she had not stepped outside since the Great Migration. Where the Calabim had left the caves of Al-ash-Ir, for the new world above.

    ''What are you doing out here?'' She questioned him, caringly, ''You may catch something. Remember how Lady Herrtia died? It was a disease she caught from a human.''

    ''Don't worry, my Lady. There are no humans here.'' He said, smoothly. ''In fact, I often come here when I need to think.''

    ''I see.'' She replied, with obvious disapproval.

    She stood awkwardly, and looked very unnatural against the backdrop of green hills and flowers, Agron noticed. There was a short silence, each absorbed in their own thoughts.

    ''What are you doing out here?'' He asked, at last.

    Suddenly, Alexis broke down. She stumbled towards him and fell at his side. Tears streaming down her face.

    ''Oh Agron!'' She cried, while Agron tried to keep a straight face as the woman worshipped for being unshakeable by humans and Vampires all across the Empire, collapsed at his feet. ''It is him!''

    ''Who my Lady?'' Agron replied, uncertainly.

    ''My Brother! He is alive! He is coming to Prespur!'' she wailed, as Agron quickly scanned their surroundings, making sure no one could see their Queen in such a state.

    It was mostly unknown that Alexis had a brother, and Agron had been shocked to discover it. It seems in fact that she was not the only gift from the heavens. At the same time she arrived in Al-ash-Ir, so did her brother, and for the first hundred years or so they ruled the city together. However, they came to a disagreement. Alexis wanted to spread the gift to her most loyal servants. She claimed that a permeable society would encourage Human loyalty and servitude, whereas her brother claimed that creating more Vampires would endanger their position as rulers. The feud continued for almost a year , and their arguments became ever more violent. It is written that, for almost a month, the people of Al-ash-ir were too scared to leave their homes, lest they were caught up in the fight.

    Finally, one day after a particularly violent fight between them that took place all across the town, Alexis pushed him from the Palace rooftops, which were written to almost reach the cavern's ceiling, hoping to kill him once and for all. However, her brother survived, but was disgraced. His followers rejected him, claiming Alexis to be the stronger and more worth ruler. He had informed her bitterly that she had won, for now, and that he was returning to Heaven. But one day, he would return and have his revenge.

    In hind-sight, Agron wondered if this was why Alexis had been so accepting of the existence of the Upper World, while so many other Vampires at the time claimed it was a lie. She had physically watched her brother leave to the surface, and hadn't she originally fallen from there? She had known of the existence of this ''Heaven'' before Agron had even discovered it, and yet she had seemed surprised, and had rewarded him greatly for his work. ''How strange...'' Agron pondered.

    ''He is coming for his revenge! He told me he would have revenge! I humiliated him in front of our servants, he will come to kill me.'' Her eyes were filled with genuine panic.

    Agron, not knowing what to say, remained silent. Alexis seemed comforted by his presence, at least.

    ---

    Agron lay in bed, but unusually for him, could not sleep. Flauros was returning, and who knew what kind of spanner he would throw into the works. He had spoken to Asterna as soon as he could return to the Palace, and told her of Alexis's break down. She could not believe her ears, but had suggested what Agron already knew. ''Alexis is not as strong as we thought.'' Asterna had told him that the rumours that Internal Affairs possessed incriminating evidence against several of the large Noble Houses, Korouen, Umtilii, Gaeroen, Yraia and Junear, were out, and that she had already received offers of donations from the smaller, more ambitious nobles, in order to ''spill the beans'' so to speak. Of course, she had not accepted any of them. As the noble Houses themselves would surely offer far greater amounts in order to keep her quiet. Agron had paid for an armed body guard of Moroi, led personally by General Hoaro, to accompany her at all times and guard her room and possessions, to protect her from any other ways of persuasion, that were more preferable to the Houses then bribery.

    Finally, Agron drifted off into an uneasy sleep.

    ---

    The Nobleman's Council was called early in the morning. The Council Chamber was ablaze with the shouts and gossiping of the Nobles, as they awaited the entrance of the Queen. It was most unusual that she was not present, half an hour after the Council had been called. Another ten minutes passed, and some of the council members began to feel uneasy. It was not uncommon for an ambitious Nobleman to occasionally hire an assassin to ''remove'' her, but none had ever succeeded in this task. Perhaps this time it had? Finally, there was a knocking at the large, oak doors. The Council fell silent, and Agron called out, ''Enter!''.

    Cowering in the doorway was a messenger, holding a piece of parchment. From which he now read. Asterna Lae, from Internal Affairs, stood boldly behind him. ''The Honourable, Queen Alexis, Supreme and Eternal Ruler of the Calabim Empire, will not be attending Council today. The Lord Agron is required to take her place on the Throne during this meeting of the Council.''

    The Chamber immediately descended into the chattering and arguing that seemed unavoidable in any large group of Vampires. What did this mean? Why was Alexis not coming? What kind of power did Agron now command, that meant he was sitting on the Throne in Alexis's place?

    Asterna walked up the central aisle, slowly and purposefully, as the oak doors swung closed. Agron stood, and sat down again on the Throne to his left, and Asterna replaced him in the seat of Chief Advisor. Agron had had a feeling this would happen, and had asked Asterna to be on standby to take up his position on the Council just in case. By tradition, each seat on the council must always be filled. Although some looked on it with distaste, it was not unusual for Humans to control some seats of the council, traditionally several government agencies were run by Humans, although these generally had little political power. No human could ever hope to possess the seat of Chief Advisor, even if only temporarily.

    Agron raised his hand, and the nobles fell silent. ''You are summoned here today to discuss the voluntary donation of gold from the Houses Korouen, Umtilii, Gaeroen, Yraia and Junear to the Government. This will be a one-time payment, payable to Internal Affairs.

    The Uhro of House Yraia, Uhro Hesper Yraia stood and addressed the Throne, angrily. ''What mischief is this Agron! What have you done with the Queen?''

    ''I understand that the Queen is recovering from a very long day and short night yesterday, she will be available to hear you at around midday. For now, you will address me alone.'' Agron replied. ''May I ask, what is your opinion on the donation?''

    ''House Yraia is honoured to offer the Empire as much gold as is necessary to protect our lands from the foreign Heathen.'' He countered.

    ''Excellent, sit down.'' Agron ordered. Enjoying his short time as ''Queen''.

    The Council continued for three hours, during which each of the donor houses displayed a zealous and honourable attitude towards the new tax. It was quite amazing what a little incentive could do, and each of them now suspected that Alexis was weakening. She was known to sleep for only a few hours a night, so Agron was clearly hiding something. They would want to be seen in a good light by the other Noble Houses if they wanted to stand a chance to grab the throne upon Alexis's inevitable assassination.

    However, behind the closed doors of each House, the nobles were outraged. The Uhros of each knew what the Archives contained, and their House's were furious that they had been kept in the dark for so long, and that their leader had made such a stupid mistake. Even though some of the ''mistakes'' had taken place centuries ago, they knew that it would still be enough to ruin their House's chance for Leadership if the story was to get out. Some nobles suggested that Agron should be killed, but it was decided, unanimously, that this would be impossible. Agron was surrounded by Moroi at all times, and seemed to have a great deal of control over Hoaro, their human General. The Archives themselves were kept under lock and key at all times, and the entrance to them was rumoured to be riddled with deadly traps, so removing the evidence was not an option. Besides, they would have to play by the rules if they were to stand any chance of getting the Throne.

    Finally, the Council came to a close, the Empire considerably richer then before...

    ---

    In the streets of Prespur, the people rejoiced. The Haloi Agents had been ordered to spread the word that the Government had planned a new tax on the Bratavoi Caste, which made up around 85% of the Human population, but that the Lord Agron had argued the case of the commoners and placed the tax on the Nobles instead. In the coming years, Agron would become well-known for his respect and compassion for the Empire's Human Castes...
     
  6. Ekolite

    Ekolite Deity

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    Would appreciate any comments, although I guess some of it might not make sense if you don't play FFH.
     
  7. Dumanios

    Dumanios MLG

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    Great Story Kol.7!
     
  8. Ekolite

    Ekolite Deity

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    Thanks :D.
     
  9. Ekolite

    Ekolite Deity

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    In Sickness and In Health (Part 1)


    Asterna Lae stood outside the great oak gates of the Council Chamber, a took a deep breath. ''It sounds like a war zone in there'' she thought to herself, clutching Alexis's latest proclamation tightly in her hand. She had always found the Nobleman's Council a terrifying and intimidating place, preferring the far more tame Chambers of Internal Affairs. At last, she summoned all of her courage and knocked on the door. The sound resonated clearly and loudly through the chamber, as if by magic, and the noblemen fell silent.

    ''Enter!'' Lord Agron called, sitting at his traditional place to the right of the Throne.

    Asterna slowly opened the door, which gave a long, ominous creak. Breathing deeply, she walked quickly between the rows of Vampires on either side, keeping her eyes focused solely on Agron, who smiled to see the document in her hands. At the foot of the podium, she bowed her head in a sign of respect and began the short climb upo the stairs to the Ruling Seat, the wooden platform upon which Alexis and her chief advisors sat. Today only Agron sat there. Alexis was allegedly ill with Jeringtosis, a non-fatal sickness that had spread throughout the Calabim Empire of late, and was refusing to see all but her closest companions, choosing to remain locked in her majestic quarters, although most of the Nobility did not truly believe she was ill, and conspiracy stories spread through the Nobility like a forest fire. Agron, the newly appointed Ikrasa of the Empire, had taken it upon himself to dismiss the other advisors of the court, claiming they were unnecessary while Alexis was away. The Ikrasa was a position held by a Vampire of great status or royal favour who's duties were to run the Nobleman's Council and handle the day to day running of the Empire while the Queen was unavailable, a small, but important increase in power for Lord Agron.

    Asterna handed Agron the document, and sat down in the empty seat to his right. Somewhere in the crowd a Vampire gasped, but was immediately hushed by her neighbours. To take a seat at the Ruler's Seat uninvited was a disgraceful act, especially for a human, but most of the nobility now saw the way the wind was blowing and turned a blind eye. Agron unrolled the document carefully and began to recite it to the Council, barely needing to refer to the parchment at all, after all he had wrote it himself:


    ''The Royal Proclamation of War upon the Ljosalfar Court''​

    ---

    A horn sounded, and then another, and another. All around town the city watch called the signal again and again. The Calabim were at war.

    Just outside the city walls, regiments of militia readied themselves for the long journey into the forests, gathering their weapons and checking their supplies one final time. ''Agron's Justice'', as they were called, would soon be on the move. In the midst of it all, a round canvas tent stood, guarded by several Moroi. Within, Agron sat at a round table, covered in maps and other documents, with the commanders of each regiment and a Haloi agent, in deep conversation of strategy and tactics.

    Although Agron had no intention of taking part in the fighting itself, every aspect of the army's strategy, including the use of Haloi agents in battle, had been designed by him and discussed in detail in the Proclamation of War. On a map of the Eastern world two areas were marked with croses, the Zwir and Razor Forests, the barbaric borderlands beyond the empire and the primary targets of ''Agron's Justice''.

    ---

    Asterna sat quietly in the Royal Chambers, at the bedside of her Queen. She had been assigned the role of Royal Companion of the Queen while Agron was unable to attend to her himself. She looked over at Alexis, who was asleep, chest gently rising and falling like the tide. She looked like death, Asterna observed, and a wave of pity overcame her. It was difficult to believe that she wasn't really ill, and her unusual sleeping habbits had been caused only by a strange concoction of Agron's, intended to give her some well-deserved rest by bringing sleep to the sleepless. She began to sob, quietly but forcibly, unable to hold back her tears. If Alexis ever did become ill, and died, then what would become of the Empire? Of course, she knew of Agron's plans, and that they did, eventually, require the removal of the Queen, but sometimes she worried. Even if Agron's plans were successful, what would the peasantry think? Although Agron didn't like to admit it, their opinion did matter in these times of change. They were devoted to Alexis entirely, as from a young age every human of the Empire was taught the story of Al-ash-Ir, and how Alexis had saved the first of the Calabim from destruction. Asterna imagined what a powerful woman she must have been in those days, not withering and thin like she was now. She had lived for almost a thousand years, and had seen the Calabim grow stronger and greater by the day, all because of her hard work. Could the Empire even survive without Alexis, she wondered.
     
  10. Ekolite

    Ekolite Deity

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    In Sickness and In Health (Part 2)


    Agron sat by the empty bed of Alexis, who had become known, of late, to some of the more outspoken noblemen as ''The Puppet Queen''. No matter how accurate this was, Agron feared the dissent amongst the nobility. He could not risk them overcoming their many feuds and uniting against him, not yet. Alexis had locked herself in her study four hours ago, and had not been seen since. Some of the servants were worried, but Agron had become used to this kind of behaviour. He had introduced painting as a hobby for her, hoping to distract her from her depression, and she had taken to it, perhaps surprisingly, like a flame to oil. He suspected she had locked herself in to prevent distractions from her latest masterpiece. Nethertheless, he would wait by her bed until she came out. In his hand he held a grey-coloured potion, which smelt strongly of onion. It was a brew he had ordered to be prepared as a counter for her growing depression. Although at first he had taken advantage of her illness, Agron now saw that she was becoming more and more disobedient and objective to his will as her illness strengthened and progressed. She blamed him for not doing more to prevent the coming of her brother, who she feared would avenge his exile by killing her and taking her place on the throne. Alexis claimed that he would return on the thousandth year of her reign, the year Flauros had vowed he would come for his revenge. Thankfully, this would not be for a few years, so Agron had decided he should have enough time to prepare. Agron sighed, stood, and walked to the nearby desk. He could at least get a little work done on his next speech while he was waiting, he supposed.

    ---

    A tear slid gently down Asterna's face, nothing seemed to be going to plan this week. First Alexis had been stricken with depression and she had been appointed the sometimes dangerous task of looking after her, and now... She looked tearfully down at the letter again, and now, her grandfather was ill. Jerringtosis. And this time, Asterna knew it was no cover up. She would have to return home to Darkgate immediately. Her Grandfather had been ill before only recently, and had barely recovered alive, and everyone knew the Jeringtosis preyed on the weak. While it was not usually fatal, she feared his chances were slim. After all, as an elf, he naturally had less resistance to the disease.

    Asterna's father, her Grandfather's second son, had fled to the Calabim Empire to escape from the civil war which had devastated his village. He had come to outskirts of Prespur with nothing, but had started a business selling carved figures of Aeron the Protector and the other Gods of the Natural Order, a religion he found he had many synergies with. He had quickly become rich enough to buy a small house in the city proper, where he met and fell in love with a beautiful human woman. Asterna had been the fruit of their love. Asterna silently reprimanded herself for not visiting her parents lately, she had become so heavily involved with Agron's campaign that she had simply never had enough time. She went to the sink and washed her face. Finally, there was a knock on the door. Agron had arrived, she had sent for him almost an hour ago.

    He entered, face contorted into an expression of empathy. She ran towards him, and hugged him with all he strength,
    ''Oh Agron!!'' she cried, ''What am I to do?''
    He gently pulled her away from him and placed her on nearby chair.
    ''I have organised a coach for you, if you leave now you will be at his side in five days.''
    ''You're not coming?'' her voice was solemn. She knew it was impossible for him to come with her. After all, someone had to run the Empire, and none of the nobility could be trusted to do so without destroying all of their progress.
    ''I can't, I wish I could, but it's just not possible. I'm sorry.''

    ---

    Agron watched the coach depart from his private chambers at the top of the East Tower. He smiled to think that soon everything would be in place. Asterna's Grandfather was only a mild inconvenience. He had long disapproved of Asterna's role in the Calabim Government, and was one of the petty, misguided Ljosalfar who had come to see Vampires as enemies and monsters, rather then the father's of modern civilisation, and had often tried to insist she returned home to the forest. Agron also suspected that he had been one of the main informers of the Ljosalfar Government and had employed spies in the Calabim Palace.

    It had been simple indeed to contaminate a gift from Asterna with Jerringtosis, which had been rampant in the city of Prespur. However, Agron had sent him another parcel with Asterna's coach, containing a cure for Jerringtosis that he had developed himself. With this, he hoped he would see Vampire-kind for what they really were, and Agron as a friend instead of an enemy. It also ensured that Asterna was out of the city while the unpleasant procedures necessary for Agron to come to power were undertaken. He had never attempted to lie to her, or cover up the truth. She knew full-well what brutalities would be needed to gain control of the empire, but had no wish to take part or see it for herself.

    Yes, soon his plan would be complete. He completed the final document with his signature, and then unlocked and opened a draw in his desk. He placed the document inside, and took out a long, silver dagger, which he sharpened carefully, before placing it under his pillow, blowing out the candle which dimly lit the room, and falling asleep.
     
  11. Ekolite

    Ekolite Deity

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    The Great Journey


    Alexis stood, naked in the cold stone hall, which seemed to stretch on for eternity, her body had become frail and lifeless. She knew what was coming. She knew what she must do. In the strange, unfamiliar chamber, she felt the eyes of her father, Aeron the Protector, upon her, and was glad to feel his influence warm her in the cold room. As she observed her surroundings, she watched as the ancient walls painted themselves, as if by magic, depicting the Great Journey, the Calabim's history since the beginning of time, the Story that few, perhaps only herself and one other, knew.

    She watched as the mighty Aeron, in a fit of Rage at the coming of the Age of Ice, set lose his Angels upon the World of Erebus, striving to keep control of the remaining splinters of his domain. Tribe after Tribe fell into extinction, despite the guidance of the Angels, who on Erebus were known as Vampires. As their tribes perished in the endless snow, the Vampires despaired. Everything they loved was dying, yet they could not die. While the tribesmen each departed to Aeron's Vault, where the Great Protector could himself protect them from the harm of their own minds, own wishes and ambitions, the Vampires lived on. As the Winter deepened and c continued, the Vampires traversed the lands, desperately looking for any humans to help survive the harsh rule of Mulcarn and rebuild Aeron's Empire. Yet they could find none, and so, for hundreds of years they fed not upon the sins of humans, they cleansed not the spirit of man, and this drove them mad.

    Vampires were created by Aeron the Protector for a purpose. To lead his followers, to punish them for their crimes, and then finally, to cleanse them of their sins, allowing them to reach the Vault of Aeron, the paradise of the Natural Order. They were created to be a superior race, and a superior race they were. Yet when the Vampires of old could not feed on the souls of man they began to degrade. A Vampire cannot die, but their ethics and their maternal instinct for mankind was truly mortal. They were driven wild as their minds were destroyed with hunger, the first Brujah were born.

    The Brujah were terrible beasts, dark in appearance, with skin as pale as ice, they were muscular and vicious with fangs like needles. Terrible in comparison to Vampires of the Alexian Era, who were almost human-like in appearance. The Brujah joined and formed what could be liked to wolf packs, their screeches long echoed across Erebus, until one day, one of the packs of four Brujahs found an entrance to a cave system. Alexis peered carefully at this mural, as she walked slowly around the room. This was the beginning. As she followed across the wall she recalled, all those years ago, watching from paradise with her life-long companion as the wild Angels, the demonic Brujah, swarmed into the village of Al-ash-ir.

    The humans had struggled, barely surviving, feeding of insects they found in their subterranean world. They had been so unprepared. A tear ran down Alexis's face as she remembered the struggle. The Brujah had butchered the weak resistance the men of the village could provide and had fed upon their flesh. For four years, their rule grew more and more harsh, until the last remnants of Aeron's Empire were on the brink of destruction. Aeron saw this, and with the last of his strength opened a great portal between his Vault and Al-ash-Ir. Fearing the attentions of Mulcarn, the portal could remain open for only a second. Just enough time for Alexis and Flauros, the twin children of Aeron, his Archangels, to slip through the ether and into the ruinous village.

    She remembered the stench most of all. The reek of the place was almost unbearable, rotting flesh and unwashed Brujah, who had become ever more demonic during their short time as rulers. There had been a great battle, and eventually Alexis and Flauros had driven them from the village. Flauros had charged after them, and spent several years in the wilderness, during which he hunted down and destroyed each and every remaining Brujah. In paradise, Aeron grew stronger with each execution and he smiled upon the successes of his children. In Al-ash-ir, Alexis nurtured her small rabble of humans, teaching them many skills, and the history of Aeron's Domain. When Flauros returned, they had rebuilt the entire village, which now provided homes for almost forty humans.

    Flauros and Alexis ruled for hundreds of years, whilst Mulcarn's Winter raged across the surface. Under their leadership Al-ash-Ir flourished and expanded, and the people gladly bowed to their every wish, including the ritualistic sin-eating, the necessary feeding of the Vampires. However, one day the twins had fought, and the related events led to the exile of Flauros, who returned to the upper world.

    Alexis shook involuntarily. Flauros had always been a vengeful character, proud and strong, and true to his word. Alexis knew, in her beating heart, that she was not the one to combat Flauros, no, if she fought she would be doomed to fail. This revelation startled Alexis, and she ran desperately towards the far end of the hall, glimpsing in Murals her future, and that of her nation. She had known of Agron's plot since the beginning, she had known that he had used her as a pawn since he was gifted, pretending to love her, but she had seen his potential and allowed him to continue. He would make an excellent leader, he had shown it again and again. He had crippled the rebellious nobles and brought riches to the Empire, whilst somehow also gaining the respect and love of the human populace. He was incredible.

    Suddenly she gasped, barely repressing it to contain the sound, there was a dark figure crouched a little further along the wall, closely examining one of the murals. He was covered only by a black cloak, and a long, silver dagger lay at his feet.

    ''Hello Alexis'' the man said, without looking round. His voice was cold, and unrecognisable.

    ''Wh... Who are you'' she whimpered, fearing the worst.

    ''Why Alexis, don't you remember your dear old brother?'' his tone was strangely jolly, yet as cold as Mulcarn's Vault, as he stood and straightened up. In the torchlight that lit the Hall, Alexis could see every bulging muscle on his body.

    ''You!'' she gasped.

    ''Me.'' He said, snidely.

    Alexis desperately searched for an escape, or anything that could help her, yet the Hall was doorless. Following her gaze, Flauros bent down and picked up the dagger holding it carefully in his hand.

    Suddenly, the walls began to shake. The murals vanished, as the paint fell to the floor as so much coloured sand.

    ''Alexis? Alexis!'' A great voice echoed around the hall as the walls fell apart. Flauros dived for cover as he narrowly avoided the falling masonry.

    ''Father?'' Alexis wondered aloud.

    And then she awoke.
     
  12. Ekolite

    Ekolite Deity

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    The next few stories in this series. Doesn't seem to be much interest atm but tbh this thread is basically just to keep track of the chapters and keep them together.
     
  13. Dumanios

    Dumanios MLG

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    As a proud FfH player myself,I still like it!
     
  14. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

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    i've just taken the time to read them all, and they are very good.
     
  15. arcticnightwolf

    arcticnightwolf Emperor

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    Can you post next stories from FfHNES? I can't fish them out from that mess (mean FfHNES Thread) ... :)
    And btw, what happened to Yrain? :) (the Commander of the Moroi, and perhaps the highest ranking human in Al-ash-ir)
     
  16. Ekolite

    Ekolite Deity

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    Sure, I've been meaning to for a while but kept forgetting.
     
  17. Ekolite

    Ekolite Deity

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    Betrayal


    Morteros shook her, but only very gently, afraid that his touch would somehow break her.
    ''Alexis, Alexis wake up.'' He whispered, hurriedly
    ''Father?'' Her voice was groggy and weak as she began to stir. Finally she opened her eyes, blinking in the light of the candle Morteros held close to her face.
    ''What are you doing, filth! How dare you wake the Queen!'' Immediately she was fully awake, and furious that a lowly human servant had dared awake her from her dream. It was still dark outside.
    ''I am most sorry, My Queen.'' Morteros withdrew from her quickly, ignoring the casual insult, ''But I had no other choice, I have dire news.''
    Alexis growled angrily at him, ''Turn around, and be silent.''
    The man turned, shaking in fear. What would she do to him? He kept his mouth firmly shut to prevent her hearing his whimpering, and tried to picture the birth of his new-born baby, determined to die with a happy thought in his mind.
    Finally, Alexis spoke again. ''You may face me.'' Her tone of voice was implacable, and worrying. He turned slowly, not knowing what to expect.

    She stood before him in a long gown of deep red silk, with her hair brushed perfectly into place, and her face washed. Morteros let out a sigh of relief, not bothering to hide it from her, and she smiled to see his discomfort. ''What is it you have to tell me, Morteros?'' Morteros was one of her main servants, and was charged with cleaning many of the rooms in the Upper Palace, for this reason he made a useful spy, and often brought her valuable information based on what he found in the rooms of the members of the Ruling Seat, her chief advisors, and any Nobles who needed to stay in Prespur.

    He took a deep breath, hoping she would acknowledge him as the bearer of bad new and not its cause. ''Lord Agron plans to kill you! I found these papers in his desk, and under his pillow he keeps a long, silver knife.'' Little did the Nobility know that privileged servants like Morteros had the keys to every draw and cupboard of the Upper Palace rooms.
    ''Many of the nobility keep knives at hand, a man like Agron should always be weary of betrayal.'' Aware of how ironic this would sound to the servant.
    ''But Mistress, on the dagger he has carved 'Ka Ypeigna sor ka Heim Nroghe', which means 'The Bringer of the New Age', in the Old Tongue.''
    ''I am perfectly aware of the meaning.'' She said coolly. She knew Morteros was correct, yet continued to play Agares' Advocate, ''And it does not necessarily suggest...'' She let it hang.
    ''No, but this does.'' He placed document after document onto her desk, which she began to skim through, Morteros drawing her attention to the most damning areas of each. Included was a detailed discussion of Agron's grand scheme, a sketch of the dagger and it's carving, and numerous references to the ''New Age''. Finally, feeling he could no longer hold on, he desperately tried to pull her away from the documents by her arm, saying, ''Mistress, we must leave! You must escape!''

    The Queen slapped hard the hand that had so callously grabbed hold of her, and continued to flick through the documents. Sometimes, servants like Morteros forgot their place. At last, she spoke. ''Interesting'' her voice was steady and calm.
    ''Interesting? He is going to kill you!''
    ''Yes, it is interesting. Some of this had escaped even my notice.'' she told him.
    He gasped in horror. ''You knew his plans? Then why in this world did you give him such power?''
    ''Silence! You will not speak to me using such a tone, worm!'' Her expression was clouded with anger. ''You will never doubt my actions! Understand?''
    ''I... I'm sorry Mistress, I don't know what I was thinking, I was just so afraid you would walk into his trap.''
    She ignored him, and turned to the long mirror that hung on her wall, meticulously inspecting her appearance.
    ''I am tired of Ruling.'' she finally spoke,''I am tired of dealing with the Council. I am tired of constantly having to thwart the plots of ambitious Noblemen. Please leave me now, Morteros.''

    Morteros scrambled to his feet and walked to the doorway, blinking back tears with all his strength. Alexis really was depressed, and she wanted to die. A fact Agron would surely make good use of...
     
  18. Ekolite

    Ekolite Deity

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    The Last Gift


    Alexis stood over the huge easel in her study, hardly daring to breathe, finishing her latest piece of art with a final, careful stroke of red paint. She stood back slowly and observed the piece. It was perfect, beautiful, and upon looking at she immediately recalled the event with such strength and vigour that she was forced to sit down. Grasping out behind her, she found a wooden stall which she collapsed upon. She would name this piece, ''The Ascension of Lord Agron', yes, the name was as perfect as the painting itself, with a wonderful double meaning that filled her with glee. It was a depiction of herself giving Agron the gift of Vampirism in reward for his discovery of the entrance to the Upper World. That was her first gift to him, and the painting would serve well as her last.

    It was still dark outside, and she had been awake for over an hour, yet she didn't mind. After all, this would be her last day as a ruler of an Empire, and a great one at that. She was determined to enjoy every minute of it, and she had a lot of work to do before Agron awoke. She sat down at her desk and pulled out a long roll of parchment, she smoothed it out onto the desk, holding it at the corners with heavy paper weights shaped like the gargoyles that hung from the rooftops of the Palace. Finally she searched her draws for a quill and ink, yet none could be found.

    ''Blast!'' she exclaimed quietly. Ordinarily she would simply call for her servant, Morteros, but she didn't want him to discover what she was doing, for he would be sure to try to interfere if he found out. She bunched up the parchment and held it under her arm while slowly opening her door, not wanting to let it creak. She began to pace catlike, out of the room, carefully swinging the door shut behind her.

    The hallway was pitch black and too dark for even her to see where she was going, so she held onto the wall for support and guidance. As she crept along the wide corridor she counted the doors that she passed under her breath, ''One... Two... Three...'', until she finally reached the twelfth door, which she unlocked with a heavy, bronze key and slipped inside. These were the Archives, the famous haunt of the Internal Affairs staff, and the only room in the Upper Palace that was not a bedroom. Thankfully, at this hour the room would be empty. She reached down to a small table near the door and picked up the small candle that stood there. Overnight the wax had dwindled down to almost nothing, but luckily it was still alight. She lit the lanterns that hung from the walls of the main office and settled down at the huge desk which was laden with the largest books and scrolls she had ever seen in all her immortal lifetime. Also on the desk was a small rack holding writing equipment, just as she knew there would be. Finally she laid her parchment on the desk and began to write.

    ''Dearest Agron, my Heart.

    You have come so far in these short years that you have sat on the Council of Nobles, very far indeed. You have made many powerful allies, but also great enemies. Yet, with the wrath of Mighty Aeron himself you have crushed each one of them in turn. The Council lies in ruins, and the entire branch of Internal Affairs, the lawkeepers of this realm, are pawns that you alone can command. But for you this is not enough, and you know there is one final enemy that you must defeat, one final tradition which you must overcome. That tradition is me.

    I have ruled since time immemorial. Many a Nobleman has tried to displace me during my reign, yet none has ever succeeded. None has ever been powerful or influential enough to defeat his Queen. However, when I look in your eyes, I see nothing but pure determination, I know you will never stop until you have the whole Empire at your disposal, and for this reason, I, the Great Queen Alexis, Former Archangel of Aeron himself, have feared for my life these past few months. I have watched your grip tighten over all areas of government, watched as Noblemen, servants and Moroi alike swore allegiance to you. Of you I was afraid.

    I could trust no one. Not even you, my closest companion. And as my Brother slowly began to crawl his way back to Prespur and our Allies one by one betrayed us my fear increased, and depression reared it ugly head. Yet you came to my aid, you protected and cared for me, and it was then, when I looked you in the eye I realised something that not even you had counted on. You too, were afraid. You were afraid that if I was destroyed then your plans would be ruined. The Nobles and peasants alike would be in uproar, and as you sat upon the Throne preaching to an empty Council Chamber the Regiments of all the Noble Famillies would be besieging the Palace, just waiting for you step outside. You had come to realise that the Empire and its Queen are not as separate as you had thought, they never have been. I am the Empire, Agron. Destroy me, and the Empire will fall before my corpse is cold.

    The Council call me the Puppet Queen, and for all this time that's what I have been. Yet no longer will I be disgraced with this role. I am tired of this life, this black conspiracy. I have watched you grow in power, and as I began to know you I saw what a Great King you could be. The Empire will surely need a strong leader if it is to defeat the barbarians and warlocks of the Amurite Empire, and fend off the vengeful influence of Flauros, my brother. I am not this leader, but I feel that you may well be. I hope it with all my heart Agron. My days as Queen are over, they have been for a long time, but I have no intention of falling to your blade . It is for this reason that on this day I hereby cede the Empire to you, King Agron the Successor, on the condition that I may remain the Religious Leader of the Natural Order and retain my title as the Lady Alexis. A privilege that, for the stability of the Empire, you cannot deny me. The ceremony of succession will take place today at noon, should you accept this offer.

    Finally, I give you my blessing to marry the half-elf girl, Asterna Lae. She will make a fine Queen.

    Yours,

    Lady Alexis.''


    At last, for the first time in almost a month, she smiled. Now she could get the rest she truly deserved. She sealed the letter in an envelope and slid it under the door of Agron's Office, before making her way back to her bed.

    ---

    Agron sat, in the black-dark room, with the dagger balanced on his lap, shaking in fear. He had never suspected his plan to come so close to success. He had never truly expected to be facing the final obstacle along his path to glory, he had never expected this day would come. The day he murdered Alexis and claimed the Throne for himself. He had tried to sleep, but in his heart of hearts he knew he would have no rest. After all, there was no rest for the wicked, and wicked is just what he had become. As he had tossed and turned in his bed, he had realised the stupidity of his actions, he realised that the Empire could not survive without Alexis, not even under his rule. She was the stuff of legend, the peasantry adored her in a way that was akin to the worship of a Goddess, and while Noblemen had tried and failed to assassinate her in years gone by, he now realised that none of them had ever really believed it could work. They knew that they could never rule the Empire, but Agron had been blinded by ambition, and now he would pay the price. He had come too far to turn back now, there were other people involved, other people that would destroy him if he went back on his word, including the Lord Yrain, an old friend of Agron who had become a Vampire shortly after him and now commanded the entire army of the Empire. A powerful man, one of the few that could destroy him.

    Presently, a low creak echoed across the dark room, disturbing Agron from his thoughts. Lamp after lamp was lit and soon the Archives were awash with light, yet only a few slithers shone through the heavy curtains that separated his private office from view. He peered through a gap in the curtains, and saw, in horror, that Alexis was now sitting at the main desk of the Archives.

    This was his chance! It was as if Aeron himself was punishing his wickedness by pushing the Queen upon him, daring him to make his move, while knowing he could not. He played with the long knife in his hands, making small stabbing motions without even noticing his actions. His breathing deepened, and quickened with his pulse. She was so close! Agron hadn't even had time to wonder what she was doing in the chamber at this time of night, but she had begun to write, quill scratching across the thin parchment. It seemed to go on for millennia, whilst Agron imagined Aeron laughing at him, knowing all along that he would never dare to kill his Archangel. After all, even if he managed to trick the nobility and peasants of the Empire, Agron could never deceive its God.

    Finally, Alexis finished writing, and slipped the letter under his door, before exiting the room, leaving the lamps to burn themselves out. As Agron saw this letter he became filled with curiosity. Could this be a trick? What could she possibly have to tell him?

    He waited until her footsteps faded away down the hallway before he dared even touch the envelope. But as soon as she was gone he bent down and slit it open with his knife. As he read the letter, the knife dropped to the floor and he cried a great prayer of relief and thanks to Aeron, who had been vigilant and supportive after all. He must have been, because Agron now knew he had won at last!

    He got up and began to walk back to his room, leaving the knife but taking the letter. Perhaps now he would be able to sleep...
     
  19. Ekolite

    Ekolite Deity

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    ;)

    He is mentioned briefly in ''The Last Gift''. Maybe you'll be finding out some more about him later on :p.

    ''The Last Gift'' is the last story in this series, although I may write a kind of Epilogue at some point.
     
  20. Eshnunna

    Eshnunna Warlord

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    Wannnnt... moooooooore !!
     

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