Book III - Chapter 19

Chapter 19

It is recorded, and therefore known to be the truth, that the First Emperor of mankind was a direct descendant of the First King of men. During the end of the ancient times, when the lifeblood of mana first appeared, and destruction fell upon the world. Then, it was recorded, and thus known as fact: the first Emperor brought humanity back from the precipice.

The age of reckoning was a time of great violence and upheaval. When the lands changes and shifted beneath whims of godly power. When the oceans swelled, and mountains shattered. When men and women fell about their neighbors, lusting for greater heights in their new-found power. Yet, what came from it, what we know today as the the Empire, was formed not out of a twisted ego or aspirations to greatness, but out of necessity.

What are kingdoms, when set beside extinction? What is power, when there is no longer another generation to inherit it? From his voice, the prophecy was heard. As if by the Lord of Light, the First King himself, the Empire was forged. Molded together by one man, and within their veins was a power so great, that it pulled humanity back from the brink of total annihilation. Held the line against the most ancient and powerful of calamities. He held in his hands the strength to conquer the world, and leave mankind’s enemies weakened and frightened husks, should they have the honor of being left alive at all. By the blood, for the blood: All in the glorious name of the Empire. All for the sake of what must be done. So, it is taught: the Empire rules today, for what might come tomorrow. The Empire rules, so we might live.

To go against this, is to go against mankind, itself.

And yet, it is also know, despite how the legends might portray those times, a slightly different history.

The First Emperor who lead those wars, who called upon the Prophecy and took up the holy mantle of responsibility to mankind’s very survival, was not alone.

Nay.

While they were undeniably the cruible and hammer, which brought humanity to greatness, there were others. Perhaps, the events are known to a far lesser extent, and the truth taken might well be lesser, in turn: there are also the stories of more quiet battles. Smaller, less important records, that might also be taken as fact. Hidden and stashed away among the great Academy Libraries, or personal studies among the Royal keep within the palace, which paint a different picture.

The First Emperor did not fight alone. Far from it: by his side, were men and women who took up the banners. Who lived with him, for him, loyal until the grave. Loyal enough to set themselves alight in their darkest of hour, lest they be taken up and turned against him. Though years have passed, and turbulent ages war have all but ended, the times have cooled. Tempered, even, like steel pulled free of the forge to set beneath the hammers of necessity. Every-flying flags of Red, banners of flame: these were the foundations which form the noble houses of men.

Of these, which remain in more modern times, there are still many. Dozens, even, of the families who might trace their history upon gilded pages of master-crafted books, woven with metals that no magic of today might waver. Still, among them, there are a select few which stand above the rest.

House Adom, of which the Empire’s finest Knights were born. House Hulden, bloodline of the finest Inquisitors mankind had ever seen. Even the peasants, the poorest, might recognized their crests and their names. But, of all these families, all these histories: there is only one of which, who can claim to stand directly beside the throne.

Aye, only one.

Known for the most powerful Archmages in the recorded texts since the very founding of the Empire. Legends that turned the tides against hopeless battles and unspeakable horrors. With blood all but untarnished by the wretched masses that now flock the streets, it is said that most of this bloodline are still known to hold affinity with an element of the mystic arts by the time they are able to speak. So it is, there is only one family given the right to act beneath the Emperor’s own will. The Privileged to maintain order in the Royal Family’s absence. Ever loyal, ever faithful:

The Greater house of Qol.

Yes, indeed.

Who better, to take on such a role? What choice could possibly fill the position, and do so adequately?

None, of course.

So, it was only just- only right, that Ekroy of Greater house Qol, receive the honorable duty of subjugating the newly discovered Dungeon Entrance.

Of course.

It was indeed a true use of his famed talents.

Ekroy nodded to himself, as the hot winds of the ever-drying plains West of the city swept up across the dying plains. The heath all but filtered to a cool and calming touch, by the woven seals along his cloakof silk.

Standing atop the the wagon, polished wood carved to the finest standards of the Empire’s own crest, Ekroy felt the pride fill in his lungs. Ro’ of only the highest caliber bellowed out in mighty form. Men- soldiers, of the Royal guard, awaited only his word, to unsheathe blades of brilliant steel.

This was his purpose.

Just… right… this was something that only he, Ekroy of Qol, could do.

What a honor it was. For him, to have been selected, he could still hardly believe his luck. Yet, of course, he was the obvious choice. As the third son of the primary line, he was far above the other remaining candidates. Especially since, the most powerful of the family had left to cross the ocean by the Emperor’s own command, not long ago. And, perhaps admittedly, the next most powerful and their, sent out to the port cities of the Western most edge of the Old Country, to maintain order.

Or, the other, remaining talented members of the family, sent to to the Eastern lines, to reinforce and hold against the ever-creeping Dwarven monstrosities known to spawn in the blood-soaked mountains.

But, of course, it was still a role only he could fill! Ekroy was sure of it.

Ekroy of Greater house Qol would prove that, and more, today! His name would be stamped upon the texts! Marked upon those gilded pages: a Hero! A man who subjugated an Entrance to the Dungeon, for the honor and glory of the Empire!

And, this was only the start! With the winds of momentum and recognition, Ekroy wouldn’t stop here! No, he knew he was destined for greatness! The likes of which, the world might never have seen!

He would-

He… would…

“Is that a Frog?” Ekroy asked.

………………….

CRASH!

[Lesser Sentient Golem - Rank up]

“I’ll have you know, I am a direct representative of the Empire! As the elected Leader of this Survey Team, I command you to stand aside!”

CRASH!

[Lesser Sentient Golem - Rank up]

“Mage! I may not be able to see you, but I am learned in the arts! If you do not cease this mockery of your craft, I cannot promise you anything but the most extreme of punishments! This Dungeon Entrance has been claimed by the Emperor himself! It is property of his mightiest, and none other-”

CRASH!

“That is expensive equipment! You Brute! Do you even comprehend what you have-”

CRASH!

“Stop! You damnable machination! You foul monstrosity! Stop in the name of Law! In the name of justice!”

CRASH!

“Mage! Come out, this instant! Call off your Golem, or I will have your head! You are now directly responsible for destruction of-”

CRASH!

[Lesser Sentient Golem - Rank up]

“No! Not the Wagon! Do you even know how expensive those are these days? Lord of Light- DAMN YOU! STOP!”

CRASH!

…………

[Snake Report]

So.

I suppose two whole days without violence and destruction was too much to ask for. Yet, here we are.

Yes.

Breathe it in deep.

The already distant shouts of panic. The distinct scent of wagons burning. Men running- fleeing before two unstoppable forces of living-stone, intent on egregious amounts of property damage.

That one, pompous, arrogantly-loud, leader who is clearly failing to hold it all together on all fronts.

Yes.

This is all my fault.

An over reaction?

Maybe.

And yet, here we are.

I should have expected, considering the value people seem to hold in access to the Dungeon and its resources. I knew, somewhere in the back of my mind, that humans would probably come back here. If not the Farstrider Guild, then someone else, eventually.

Technically speaking, I could have come up with something to slow them down.

Maybe some big walls.

A moat.

There’s no water around here, but maybe I could have made a ditch filled with sharp rocks, or something like that.

Gorf could catch some scorpions to put in there.

Yeah.

Anyways, this could have gone a little differently. I accept responsibility, and I’ll admit I might have gone a little overboard.

A little.

By the time I slithered up the stairs, was there really anything left to ruin that Rocky and Gorf hadn’t already gotten a nice head-start on?

Absolutely not.

I don’t think I’d classify anything here as unwarranted, but I probably didn’t have to breath so much fire.

You know, being fair, though: maybe it’s a little bit the human’s fault. Rolling up here like they owned the place, getting to close to the sprout, making Rocky mad.

They really should have been much more prepared before they tried to set him on fire.

“We’ll be back! You hear me, Mage? I don’t know who you think you are, but I assure you! By the name of the Emperor: you’ve made a grave error!”

Yeah, yeah. I’m sure. Real convincing when you shout it from all the way over there.

“I deem thee an Enemy of the Empire! You hear me, you fool? Next time, I’ll be back with more than a small escort of wagons! By my name, of the House Qol, I’ll return with enough forces to wipe you and your cowardly creations from existence! We will unleash fury upon you, the likes of which you can’t even imagine! We will blast you from the sky! You hear- EEEP!”

How’s that? Just a little bit of fire to go with all the hot air.

Motivation to hurry up a bit.

There you go.

Keep walking.

All the way back to that stupid city.

Go do whatever it is you people do, when you’re not murdering one another.

Sss…

Well, that was something. What a mess.

Good work team.

Gorf, I think your idea with the wagon flipping was a very creative. Well done.

Throwing those boxes of mana crystals…

Not so much.

I know they make for good explosions. Very pretty- no, put down that box. Stop that. We need those.

No, I’m not sure what for quite yet.

Just don’t-

Ah.

Okay.

Great.

No, Gorf, I’m not mad you dropped the box. It’s not your fault you’ve got giant stone mittens for hands.

Hey now, cheer up. Look, Rocky’s happy. Go help him smash some of those wagons up a bit more.

There’s a good Golem.

Sss…

There are still a few boxes left, at least.

Hadn’t expected these to dwindle quite so quickly-

[!]

[The Empire has Declared War!]

[!]

[Enemy of Mankind - Updated!]

[Enemy of Mankind - Advanced!]

[Title Awarded: Enemy of The Empire]

[…]

[…]

[System Restrictions - Pending]

[Analysis - Complete!]

[Greater Enemy of The World - Retained!]

[Restrictions - Retained!]

[…]

[…]

[Temporary Restriction - Lifted!]

[Direct System Message: Gaia is pleased by your actions!]

[…]

[Redemption Quest - Offered!]

You’ve got to be joking.

[Redemption Quest! 0/1000]

[Reward: Title - Greater Servant of the World!]

[Accept? Y/N]

… you’re kidding, right?

[Accept? Y/N]

Hell no.

[…]

[Direct System Message: Gaia is displeased by your actions!]

[Restriction - Reapplied!]

Sss…

Fantastic.