How had it come to this? The Imperial Forest was burning. The smoke rose in harsh ochre hues of red and blue, giving the illusion of a sky in conflict. The hellish forms of the Drennali Warforms writhed beyond the mist, screeching in the Ancient Fuulish tongue, the reverberations shattering the remaining mountains surrounding the valley they were in. It had all seemed so easy at first; make a Ventil Pact with the Fuulcri, use the power of their song to harvest the cursed souls of the Drennali, and force them to subjugate the virgin soil of Terra Valta. Then the Warforms were awoken.
Triyn watched the man from the shade of a nearby tree, humming to a rhythm none could hear. She watched as he passed out, presumably from bloodloss. She watched as the Drennali slowly destroyed her planet. She watched also as a small ship landed and gathered the man up. She did not, however, watch as her planet was glassed over by the Shi’ir in an attempt to prevent the Warforms from expanding their Triibutarial. She was already inside the small vessel, vacating the immediate proximity of the planet in fear of an explosion
Three years earlier
“We cannot let allow the Fourth Reit’r the ability to continue! It would be disastrous to world prosperity, and would undermine the last fifty years of peace efforts in the Shi’ir plains.” The Prime Chancellor continued his speech for another few minutes, but many of the other Chancellors had ceased listening the moment he had stood up to re-address the Ambassador. The Praector himself had long since left to attend to other matters, of which receiving bribes, and in turn using the money to further his own gambling addiction. Despicable. These men, the most powerful men in the Empire were corrupt. Not just corrupt, they were broken, shattered things. The husks of once great men left too long in direct fire. All they had left were their addictions and empty promises. Triyn shifted in her seat and breathed in deeply once, twice, three times before blinking into vision her GOD and scanning the Praectorium for her target. The frosty blue HUD identified all the Chancellors in attendance shortly, but was unable to identify one man in the front row, the one who had just stepped down: the Ambassador for the Fuulcri. That was her target? Triyn cursed softly under her breath and breathed out to dismiss her GOD upon marking the Ambassador with a soft amber afterglow. Triyn tapped the heel of her left palm thrice to summon the blue glow that signified her staple Technomancy, Ether. The glow of the Ether rolled up her arm, enveloping her and revealing previously hidden tattoos of Glyphs worked upon her arm as her restrictive, but modest, formal clothing was replaced with looser, fuller clothing better suited to running the Road of Light than in a government assembly. As the last wisps of the misty blue glow faded, a remarkably light vambrace clasped shut, and a familiar voice hummed in her mind,
“Cha-Qyhni.” Triyn wasn’t surprised to see her Familiar, although she hadn’t expected to see him so soon after their last attempt for the Sphere of Lust, the last of the Twelve Spheres of Forbidden Virtues to be acquired.
“Shi-Triyn. It is a pleasure to see you again. I fear that the requirement for sustenance proved to be too overwhelming. I feared that I must join the pursuit lest I forget my place and unfortunate losses were to be withstood.” The sprite’s voice was filled with sorrow, yet his features in Triyn’s mind were anything but. Triyn raised an eyebrow, her amethyst eyes twinkled, belying the relative shadow surrounding them.
“I’m sure you were, Qyhni. If you don’t mind, I have an Ambassador to assist in Ascension.” Triyn tapped the heel of her right hand and began to carefully manoeuvre her way through the clutter of Chancellors and assistant Chancellors. Qyhni quietly hummed the old Earth songGuardians At the Gate, devised by Audiomachine, as was his habit as a scholar. It was a fitting song for the task at hand. Ascendency was the political and religious term used for her current profession, and it stank of politics like only a three day dead Drennali Herdsman could. Ascension. Assassination. In politics, it’s all the same where power is involved. Triyn shook her head in distaste, but didn’t allow the bitter thoughts to interfere with her inner calm, doing so would remove her delicately constructed illusion. Stepping over and around delicately arranged messes of paper, Triyn continued following the outer perimeter of the Hall of Debate, steadily getting closer to the Ambassador. Another speaker stepped up onto the raised dais, nicknamed the Punishment Rack, and began speaking.
“Good sirs of the First Consensual Empire, we have a very real threat on our hands. One that cannot be ignored, cannot be shoved aside to our aids, and cannot be resolved peacefully: The threat of War. There is here, in this room here, a Seeker. A Seeker of Ascendency, Nonconformity, and most terrifying of all, Chaos.” Triyn stopped, slightly unsettled, and glanced at the speaker and then continued towards the Ambassador. Then she stopped and whirled around, looking back at the speaker in a state of shock that can only be described as bordering on marrow deep terror and outrage. Her client, the Praector, was speaking. The Praector was addressing the entire assembly of Chancellors, and he wasn’t drunk. This was not good. Triyn hastily pulled some more Ether from the Glyphs on her arm and began Reshuffling the illusion to a harried messenger boy and continuing towards the Ambassador. Nearly there.
“This Seeker must not succeed in her goals lest the stability of our Empire, nay, our entire entire way of life be thrown into disarray and our sons and daughters be forced to live with the Ascension of hundreds of their forefathers. It would be disastrous.” Triyn knelt down at the shoulder of the Ambassador and tapped her vambrace, signalling Qyhni to summon her Blade.”
“Ambassador. With respect, greet the Allfather for me, and bequeath our sorrows upon his hoary shoulders.”
“The Seeker, there! Behind our friends the Fuulcri! Chancellors, assist me!” The Praector lept from the dais towards Triyn, whose knife was already in the Ambassador. Triyn leapt back, shouting, and then the world went black.
And Behold Ye Sons of Victory,
Upon the setting of the Sun,
On the fifth Day of Askardon,
In the Fourth Month of Sine,
In the Twelve Year of the Allfather,
Hell shall be Raised.
End Chapter I