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. While one of his generals, the elven Magic Knight called Eliezer the Aether Blade, reins in the newly conquered Gadra Empire another continues their own campaign…
To the east sat the Okaman Isles, a series of island masses ruled by the Myurkyuria Shogunate. Though it was neighboring Lixiang and the Fa Dynasty, it was largely isolationist. Choosing to avoid whatever squabbles they had, they prioritized on their own internal structure. A young Trelza, a species of humanoids with catlike traits such as the ears, tails, eyes, claws, and pads on the palms and feet, traveled through the rolling plains of the southernmost island. He was fair-skinned and his ears and tail were covered with smooth golden fur. He was clad in a blue shendyt, a type of cloth skirt wrapped around the waist that extended to the knees. A silver-white belt was worn to keep it fastened around the waist. A long blue-hued sash that matched the shendyt was worn across the chest and could wrap around the neck as a scarf. This particular individual had it resting lazily on the right shoulder. Silvery-white wristbands and anklets matched the belt and finally, they wore a brown rosary consisting of 10 large beads around the neck and atop the scarf. He pulls out a map from a small pouch attached to his belt and examines it.
“If I keep at this pace I should arrive at Ukko’s Font.” he thinks returning his map to his pouch and continuing. His eyes scanning his surroundings as he went. In the distance, he could see dark ominous clouds constantly storming in a single spot despite the bright clear sky. After several minutes of walking, he stops in his tracks when he catches an unpleasant scent. “Blood?” he follows the scent through the tall grass and finds a woman lying injured on the floor hidden from sight. An arrow piercing through her back and staining her sky blue kimono with blood. “By the Elementals!” Without hesitation, he rushes to the woman’s side. As he lifts up her limp body, he can see the front end of the arrow sticking out of her perfectly. His ears pick up almost unnoticeable breathing coming from her. “Don’t worry, all will be well.” he tries to assure her regardless of if she was able to understand him or not. “By the compassion of the Wavebringer, please heal this poor soul’s wounds.” The rosaries around his neck glow blue as her injury begins to heal. The wound sealing and breaking the arrow apart, dissolving what remained inside her.
“Ogh…Where…” the woman begins to awaken before quickly pushing her savior away. “No! Get away from me!” her eyes fearful as she slowly backs away. She stops when she realizes she no longer has an arrow stabbing through her or even any pain to speak of.
“Do not fear, I mean you no harm.” his voice was soft and youthful. His yellow eyes looking at her innocently. “I am Brother Ro’der the Zircon, I come to your land as a member of the Order of Xant. A vassal for the Seven Sages.”
“T-the Sages?” she stands with fear transformed into disgust. “Where were the Sages when bandits razed our crops? When monsters marched through our streets and stole our children?” Tears stream down her face at recalling the horrible memories still fresh in her mind. “I don’t need your pity beast.”
“I’m sorry, I meant you no disrespect madam. The Sages are but seven and all of Zeratal is suffering. It is my orders duty to aid where they can not. So I healed you of your injury.” Ro’der smiles slightly. His ears lower slightly before he continues. “Surely I am not the first of my order to come to your shores.” His brow furled in concern for his compatriots.
She shakes her head no. “You’re the first in such garbs I’ve met.” The woman finally stands to her feet. “I owe you my life. So please, if you truly are here on behalf of the Sages then save my land.”
“I shall do my best. Pray, tell me the nature of your plight.”
“I’ll enlighten you as we move. Tis not safe to wander between towns…day or night.” Taking the lead, she returns to and continues along the road. “On each of the Okaman Isles, there is a Daimyo who rules the land. Each serving the Shogun from the mainland. Tis not an easy life under their heel but it was one we’ve grown accustomed to. We know of the Seven Sages but only as heretics. An affront to Okami…yet still some believed in their power…that they’d free us from oppression. Until several months ago when foreigners came to our shores much like you.”
“I assure you, I bear you no ill will.” Ro’der adds.
“I believe you. Sadly, the foreigners who arrived didn’t feel the same. They called themselves Highlanders and claimed they came in peace. That by forming an alliance they hoped to stem the mad Emperor Orcus before he ravaged all Zeratal. When the Shogun declined they responded as all men do when their pride is damaged. They fought…and they fought…and they fought. In the chaos civil war broke out between the Daimyo who hoped to gain more power. Bandits took advantage of the strife and all the fighting made the monsters even more violent…Though the Highlanders were forced to flee the damage was done. There is still rampant fighting. Bandits roam preying upon the unwary and monsters hunt day and night. Not once through any of this did a single Sage come to our aid.”
“I had no idea.” Ro’der replies lowly with a heavy heart. “But you have my word. The Sages surely would have come had they known. Emperor Orcus has a far wider reach than they could anticipate. Even the Order of Xant is stretched beyond its means. It will do naught to fix the lives lost and ruined…but please, do not hold it against them.” he pleads the woman with a bow. She’s taken aback and unsure how to respond to him. “I shall do all I can in their name to fix the damage that has been wrought. I’ve only a modest request. Please, take me to Ukko’s Font!”
“The old shrine? Why there?” she inquires.
“Though I am of the Order of Xant, I lack much experience. In truth, I came here on a pilgrimage we must all take to each of the seven Elemental Sanctums. There we must meditate to gain the purest Aether blessed by the Elementals. Then we must return to the Order and if we are worthy, we will become an Arbiter. I’m ashamed to say, I am but an Adept. Were I to succeed I’d be one step closer to becoming an Arbiter and better able to free your land.”
“Would one shrine truly make such a difference?”
Ro’der raises his head with a confident smile. “The Elementals are capable of numerous wonders and I’ve already visited three of the seven. I’d feel more comfortable if I could visit Stribog’s Valley as well but I’ve a promise to keep. I will free your land even if it costs my life.”
Two islands away on the mainland of the Okaman Isles was the Myurkyuria Shogunate proper. There Shogun Shiranui ruled with an iron fist from atop a towering castle. The tower itself was rectangular in nature a slanted paneled roof colored crimson. Each floor extending outward like a balcony to match the roofing and give it symmetrical appearance. While this held their chambers, the entire island was the true castle. Miles upon miles of walls, soldiers, and servants loyal to the Shogun alone. In the skies above, a phoenix roughly the size of a vulture with green colored feathers flies through the air majestically. It’s powerful wings gliding upon the wind as it lands on the top floor balcony. Inside Shogun Shiranui sat on a tatami mat floor with several attendants waiting dutifully by her. The crimson armor she wore shone brightly atop the black hakama and gi she wore beneath it. A demons skull with golden horns extending outward to the left and right gave them a truly imposing presence despite the slim figure.
“If we don’t stop the monsters soon Lady Shiranui, the daimyo will try to use it to sway favor against us. It could lead to open revolt.” A jittery man with glasses says. His scroll shaking in his hand like a leaf amidst a tornado.
“We are already in open revolt. We shall hold our ground. Let the monsters thin the traitors for us.” her voice stern and demanding.
“With all due respect Lady Shiranui.” Another man begins hesitantly. Her left eye glances at him without her turning to face him. “While that may get rid of the traitors, the people will not forget this.”
“Tell me, do you think they’ll remember the Daimyo waging war with each other while bandits and monsters are on their doorsteps? Or the Shogun who brought order to a land drowning in its own blood. The Shogun who routed the Daimyo, bandits, and the monsters in one fell swoop? They will not forget how gracious I’ve been in saving their meager lives.” she pauses briefly upon noticing the phoenix watching them. “An Emerald Phoenix…our sailors claim meeting one is a sign that peace shall come to you. A good omen no doubt.” she chuckles to herself.
As if her words had insulted some divine force, off in the distance they see an explosion of flames coming from the east followed shortly by several more eruptions of fire. All approaching the main tower where Shogun Shiranui sat watching from afar. The group of 5 samurai who acted as stalwart guardians for the island stood helpless before the source of the explosion. A scarlet wyvern with a lance-wielding knight atop its back. The knight was clad in lightweight crimson armor from head to toe. Indentations throughout the suit were a dark red that gave the impression of it being his own muscles rather than a suit of metal. He stood around 6 feet tall and the lance he held in his right hand was taller than he was. The blade at the end reminiscent of a wyverns fangs. The helmet that emulated a Wyverns head with the bridge of the nose up to the top of the head being white that extends into two straight horns. The mouth guard that covered his mouth had a smooth but grated silver finish. A long-tail extended out the back of his breeches and rested hovering over the wyverns back.
“Show them no quarter my child, end them.” The Wyvern hisses. Her words going telepathically into the Wyvern Knights head. Despite the common belief Wyvern are little more than monsters, they are actually highly intelligent creatures. Feigning ignorance while observing and plotting against the other species who hunt them so callously.
The Wyvern Knight steps off of the Wyvern and looks upon the Samurai that opposed them. Of the 5, only two remained unwavering. He points his lance at the group, slowly moving it in the direction of each person present as he spoke. “Leave now, lest you seek an early death. You’ve no need to serve the Shogun any longer.”
“I’d rather die than betray my people!” The oldest of the samurai stands his ground. Moments after his proud declaration, the Wyvern quickly lunges and devours him whole in seconds. Roaring loudly as she finished and scaring the remaining samurai into fleeing.
“Even now you show them mercy. Surely you’ve learned from the past Caim.” the Wyvern glances at the Wyvern Knight as he walks past her with lance lowered.
“Aye, but we’ve a mission to complete Belial. I’ll not let personal matters interfere with it.”
“Hmph, perhaps I’ve raised you too well.” she scoffs while following Caim.
“You’ve only yourself to blame.” he scoffs back. “If you must sate your bloodlust, then only slay those who do not flee.” Caim says as he jumps atop the nearby wall so he can survey his surroundings. With the castle covering the entire island, the walls were labyrinthine and at a glance, all the buildings were identical beneath Shiranui’s tower. “I shall tend to the Shogun.” his eyes focus on the tower.
“My, how generous of you. Leaving me scraps while you claim the prize” she laughs deeply and disturbingly. “Til Shangri-la.” she says before flying off to find new prey.
Caim jumps from the wall into the open street. There an ever-growing group of over a dozen samurai stands to oppose him. Entering his battle stance with his left side facing his enemies and lance held behind his back. Though they stood before him united, he only cared about the tower that stood beyond them. “Til Shangri-la.”