AS Empires #5: Prince to the Throne

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. The Kingdom of Gadra, Undine Tribes, and Myurkyuria Shogunate have all joined Pax Drakana leaving only two major Kingdoms left in their way…

Atlas the Wraith
Voice of Pax Drakana

Afu the Tide Lord

Chieftain of the Undine Tribes

Orcus the Drake Emperor

Pax Drakana Emperor

With Afu the Tide Lord agreeing to join Pax Drakana, Atlas the Wraith returns to Elysium with their new ally. The Tide Lord could only watch in awe at the people who called this place home. The Elves, Trelza, Wyrms, Fairies, Centaurs, and so on. Never before had he seen such a diverse front. Nor such an abundance of Aether Crystals or even the Aether Platform that transported them from the Colsana Archipelago to the Shrine of the Seven Sages. It was a day filled with unexpected events. He couldn’t fathom what this would-be Emperor was like in person. Using his psychic powers, Atlas flies them to Orcus’ palace. A several day trip covered in minutes. As Atlas opens the door to the throne room they find not Orcus but another Drake. He was a thin young man no older than 20. He stood at 6′ tall with pale skin and pointed ears. Two short horns curving forward from his forehead while two considerably longer ones sat behind the front set. Extended backward to the base of his neck. Both sets of horns outlining his wild jet black hair. His hair matching the color of his black scales that covered his forearms and body from the navel down. The scaling on his long tail being especially thick and armored. Like Orcus, his massive black wings draped over his chest like a cloak.

“This is Emperor Orcus?” Afu thought to himself. “If he weren’t a Drake I’d question having a boy lead an empire.” he glances over at Atlas. “Or perhaps Orcus is just a figurehead to be manipulated. But with that damned psychic I can’t test him…For all I know my thoughts now may just get used against me.”

“I come with a new ally. Afu the Tide Lord.” Atlas introduces with a slight bow at the hips.

The young Drake looks at the pair and approaches. His footsteps heavy despite his thin frame. He raises his right wing slightly and extends his hand with a smile. The softness of his expression contrasting his intimidating draconic features. “Thank you for joining our cause. I expect great things oh Tide Lord.” his voice, while not particularly soft or gentle, was still surprisingly youthful. Lacking any hint of condescension or pride.

“What I do, I do for my people Emperor Orcus.” Afu refuses the handshake with a stern stare. The young Drake seemed almost hurt by the refusal to Afu’s surprise.

“I understand. Pax Drakana is an Empire for the people. Were you not here for them I’d question why you were here at all.”

“What other reason might I have?” Afu questioned cautiously.

“With your power, an assassination attempt would not be out of the question. Nor attempting to use me as a hostage.” he lowers his arm under his wing once more.

“Drakes are quite powerful creatures. Even I’d be hard-pressed to do either with Atlas and your army near.” Afu replies fearlessly. “I’d be a fool to overestimate myself and underestimate you.”

“You’re quite wise.” the Drake replies pleasantly.

“…Thank you.” he responds hesitantly. The sincerity in the young Drakes voice had him confused on how to properly react. “What is it you hope to achieve Emperor Orcus? Shangri-La sounds like a lofty goal fit only for the Seven…” Afu pauses and clears his throat. “Are you one of the Seven Sages?”

“And if I were?”

“It’d explain why you don’t fear a potential assassin. Even if you died you’d just reincarnate.”

“He’s a bit blunt but I like him.” the young Drake turns to tell Atlas.

“As do I.” Atlas smirks ever so slightly. “What say you…my Emperor?”

“Hmm?” Afu pauses for a moment as the Aether begins to ripple in the air before them. Smoking black flames beginning to emanate from the Aether. Out walks Orcus the Drake Emperor carrying a golden lance with a jet black blade. By his side was an eerie black cloaked figure. The face beneath the hood was an equally black skull with two small horns curved upward. Orange flames glow from within it and throughout the cloak to give him a masculine frame. Silvery clawed gauntlets and boots were just barely visible amidst the smoke, flames, and blackness to give it a sense of form.

Orcus looks upon Afu who begins shaking in his presence. His gaze was piercing like a lion looking upon a newborn gazelle. “Afu the Tide Lord I presume?” he asks but only receives a nod. “Good work Atlas.”

“I live to please my Emperor.”

“Welcome back brother.” The young Drake says to Orcus.

“Brother?” Afu asks confused. Upon further inspection, he could see the similarities between the pair. Both being Black Drakes with similar scales and draconic features. Even if their personality and physique were stark contrasts to the other.

“My apologies for the deception. Atlas believed it best to test you one final time.”

“I should’ve known.” Afu thought as Atlas smirked to himself.

“I am Xanatos the Drake Prince.” he apologies and stands by Orcus’ side.

“Take it.” Orcus hands the lance to Xanatos who takes it. “It’s called Starslayer and will be able to pierce through any and all defenses. A gift from the Dwarves to commemorate our alliance.”

“Thank you, brother. I shall use it with pride.” Xanatos smiles at Orcus who responds with a small barely visible smile. He then turns his attention back to Afu and returns to his default scowl.

“I assume Atlas delivered my message?”

“He did.”

“Does your presence here mean you are joining our cause?”

“I will work alongside you Orcus, but I will not serve under you.” Afu says proudly. Chest puffed up to try his best and feign confidence.

“An alliance of convenience then?”

“If it will mean my people are spared? Yes.” Despite his fear, his desire to protect his people steeled his heart and his gaze. Even before Orcus, he was now unwavering.

“A true leader.” Orcus smirks. “Atlas, you may return him to the Undine Tribes. Any of our men who wish to join you may. I trust you’ve no objections?”

“So long as they don’t disrupt our normal lives.” Afu replies.

“It shall be done, my new General.” Orcus opens his wings to reveal his full muscular body and extends his hand. Begrudgingly, Afu shakes it briefly. “Relay the message as you see fit Tide Lord. Should any challenge you, they shall answer to me.”

“Yes…emperor…” he says through his teeth before leaving with Atlas.

“Urion.” Orcus glances at the specter he arrived with. “Would you give Xanatos and I a moment?”

“Yes, Emperor…” Urion’s voice was deep and reverberated with the crackling flames that filled his body. He fades away as suddenly as he first appeared in the room.

“Xanatos.” Orcus turns to face his brother once more. “Though you wield Starslayer, it is only as a means of self-defense. I’ll not have you risking your life for us.”

“Yes, brother.” Xanatos replies without a fuss. “But when will I be able to fight alongside you?”

“Hopefully you won’t have to. When we succeed I’ll make a world where you won’t have to fight or suffer more than we already have.” Orcus puts his hands on Xanatos’ shoulders. “Trust in me.”

“I will brother.” Xanatos sighs and glances towards the floor. Averting his gaze from Orcus.

“Do not fear young one. As you trust me I too trust you. I only battle because I must. We only wage war because we must. There is no glory to be won here. Understand?”

“Yes, brother.” Like a spurned child, Xanatos leaves crestfallen and disappointed.

“Urion.” Orcus says as the specter returns. “I want you to return to the Sairay Mines. Keep an eye on the dwarves. I fear we’re not the only ones they’ve been crafting for.”

“And if they are?”

“Report it to me but do nothing. I’d prefer we know the reasoning before taking direct action.”

“As you wish my Emperor.” Urion says before fading away.

As Orcus planned his next move, Xanatos soared through the skies of Elysium. His powerful wings carrying him through the skies with the greatest of ease. He wanted to clear his mind after being rejected from aiding their cause. Why would his brother give him a weapon of self-defense when he was a Drake and didn’t need one? Sure he wasn’t as strong as Orcus was but he was by no means an easy target. Did he not truly have faith in him? The thoughts clouding Xanatos’ mind as he flew to the west towards a massive lake at the bottom of a waterfall. The water was clear and one could see straight to the bottom that seemed to extend for miles. Deep enough to sustain the simple fish but also the Azure Dragons who would occasionally visit it. Xanatos lands on the shore of the lake and gazes into its depth. Resting Starslayer next to him as he sat with his legs in the water. His tail resting on the ground and curving just so the tip is beneath the water’s surface as well.

“What ails you, my prince?” Atlas asks. His psychic projection manifesting above the water’s surface.

“Does my brother not think me strong enough to aid in the war?” Xanatos questions. “I know I’ve not much experience but we share the same blood. My power has the same potential as his doesn’t it?”

“Aye, which is precisely why you must be protected. For one chosen by divinity, it is a great honor granting him greater power than others. But for one such as that, the burden is equally heavy. He will not fail…but if he should, you will be the one to stand in his stead.”

“I know all that already.” Xanatos sighs.

“Yet you repeatedly need to be reminded of it. Though, there is one way you can show him your potential.” Atlas opens his eyes to an eerie squint.

“Really?” Xanatos gives Atlas his full attention.

“Aye.” Atlas nodes. “Though Caim was successful in reclaiming the Tree of Armon, the Armon Forest is still Orion’s Territory. Emperor Orcus would like to keep damage to the forest to a minimum. To that end, I suggest you liberate the portion with the Apoderite Colony. With them added to our Empire we can slowly inch our way back into freeing the Elven homeland.”

“But how could I do that without an army? How will I find them?”

“Dear prince, what do you think you will have should you succeed? And with the Apoderites loyal to you…our Emperor would surely have to take you seriously. But I must warn you, you must do this on your own. No allies will come to save you should something go wrong. As for where they are, upon your arrival head to the west. Finding them after that will be simple enough”

“I shall do my best.” Xanatos replies fearlessly.

“Good, then be on your way, my Prince.”

With those parting words, Atlas’ astral projection fades away. Xanatos takes to the skies and flies 10 minutes south towards the Dragon Kingdom of Endymion. An expansive city with a towering castle in the center made entirely of Aether Crystals. Many of which were hollowed out and sculpted to make the city. A one of a kind city befitting the Dragons who called it home. Though, as part of Pax Drakana, it was not home exclusively to the Dragons. Those who chose to live on Elysium called Endymion their home. With such a high concentration of Dragons, few risked trying to stir undue trouble.

The caverns beneath the Temple of the Seven Sages extended miles long to the ground beneath Endymion. It was here that the Aether Platform leading to the Armon Forest awaited use. In a flash of Aetherial light, Xanatos finds himself deep within a forest extending as far as the eye can see. The trees were as wide as towers and as hard as diamond. Their leaves so large and numerous you could never get a direct view of the sunlight for more than a second. Unfortunately for Xanatos, with all the trees it was quite difficult to use his massive wings. Forcing him to make his journey on foot.

Without flight, it took him two days to finally reach his destination. A honeycomb hidden amidst the trees. Row and row stacked like a sideways staircase and filled with perfectly segmented off areas. It’s scale awe-inspiring as it extended across 5 different trees and each seemed to be the size of cities. The sight, however, was ruined by the soldiers stationed below. The Highlanders of Orion were a fair skinned and warrior-like people. Often preaching enlightenment then acting with brute force. In most cases, they wore smooth bronze breastplates that emulated their muscles atop white tunics extending down to their thighs. A matching helmet, armored sandals called caligae, a spear, short sword, and a shield were their most common weapons of choice. The commanders and generals often wearing an additional cape of either crimson or blue. Memories of his youth on the run from such men filled Xanatos’ mind. Orcus was always there to protect him but now he was on his own.

“What would brother do…” Xanatos thought to himself. “If Orcus were here he’d…” he thought before opening his wings and taking to the skies.

“The hell is that sound?” One of the Soldiers asks in confusion? He had grown used to the unending buzzing sound of the Apoderites but this was something different. Something larger. As the sky darkens a tall and masculine figure crashes into the ground before him. As the smoke clears he sees Xanatos who begins to slowly rise to his feet. Magic used to make him appear a physical match to Orcus while maintaining his own unique traits. His eyes glowing a blood red as he looked down on the soldier.

With a single swift swing of Starslayer, Xanatos sends out a wave of compressed gravity that easily bisects a fourth of the present army. Killing a minimum of 150 soldiers in one fell swoop. With chest puffed out, wings wide, and Starslayer in hand, Xanatos speaks. “HEAR ME HIGHLANDERS!” his voice magically augmented to be deep and imposing much like Orcus’. “I’ve a message from the Emperor…” a black and purple-hued Aether begins to build around him and surge with power. “Die.”

Next Issue

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Aetherius Saga Empires Chapter 4- Voice of the Empire

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