Without further delay....
Sunday, July 19, 2015
This is the day I give a magical preview into the sequel to Empires Awakening. The title is still in works - but soon to be decided upon. A caveat to be included here, this is not the final publisher ready version. Some of the details and parts of this preview are open to change.
Without further delay....
Without further delay....
Prelude: The Kingdom of Sanctum
The plains were empty of life, all the birds and deer and the smallest of insect had fled before his force. Cenephon stood on a hill before the long flat plain lying between himself and the mammoth stone walls of the city of Sanctum. Wild flowers usually grew here, but they had died to a sad brown in the unseasonable cold that flooded the area around his orc hordes. The stone lane he stood in was a quiet line, wandering through the dead field. The barren stalks of the dead plants were waving in a stiff evening breeze. He closed his eyes, breathing deep as he let the feelings of the stone and dirt beneath his feet tell him their story.
As master of the Stone of Earth, the very ground of Theron was his ally and his symphony. He could mold and shape the stone and clay into whatever form he wished. He could bring flowers to bloom in the harshest of soils, or poison the richest fields to a barren silty mass. With his gift of stone-sight he reached out to get a sense of the city and all that occurred within. He had crafted a ring that focused enhanced this gift, and with it he could see and sense many times greater than he could unaided. He could even take a simple map and use it to see friend and foe across Theron.
This day the dirt spoke to him of fear, of people crying and hoping for mercy to come before the dark onslaught he had with him. This black iccor of fear and terror was a mark upon the soil, polluting it in a way only he could sense. Gilden, the leader of their war against the cities aligned with Kal had told him to ignore the feelings coming from the world around him.
“The feelings you have are those of the weak. They have no place in our world that we are making.” He could picture him saying a few weeks previous.
“Gilden, the planet cries out against what we are doing. The blood of innocent is seeping into the ground.” Cenephon said to him. He could still remember the smell of burning flesh and timber as they stood in the wreckage of one of the many cities he had helped put to the torch.
“Cenephon, if you wish to defend these whelps feel free to do so.” Gilden said menacingly, his black sword of ice steamed in the heat of the day. “To defend these weaklings is to be weak yourself, and I have no need of that.”
Cenephon sighed and rubbed his temples, his short auburn hair gently rustled by the evening breeze. The deep ruddy clay color of his cloak held the cold at bay from his skin. There was a thought in his mind, a nagging feeling that he felt he should answer. He recalled the stench of the dead and the cries of the innocent felled by his hand these past few months. He felt the dark pall of the fear seeping into the ground and his knees grew weak. Staggering, his hand reached out to the stone arm of his golem lieutenant, Parsethon.
The stone golem had remained silent, but now quickly reached out and caught his master as he lost his footing, his other hand clenched to his mouth stifling a sob.
“Cenephon, what is wrong?” His deep gravelly voice said. The stone of his jaw gently slid across his hard rocky features.
“Parsethon, what have I done? Look at us! I have allied myself with the orcs for what? For the world Gilden has envisioned ruled under his guiding hand?”
Parsethon continue to hold Cenephon up as he spoke. “You have a choice in this war master.” They both let their eyes fall back on the mass of rowdy orc warriors behind the hill they stood on. Their cries echoed across the low valley they camped in.
“A choice.” Cenephon’s sobbing had stopped, but he still felt the wet tears rolling down his face as an idea grew in his mind, and the stone wall he felt slowly began to fall away from his heart. “You are right; I must undo what we have done.”
“Both our hands are bloodied in this-“ Parsethon began to answer.
“No! I brought this on us.” Cenephon spoke in low tones through clenched teeth. “I have a plan for us. I want all the golems to surround the city. I am going to speak to their council.”
“I will make it so master. I must ask, why do you go to the council of the city?”
Cenephon stepped away from Parsethon, finding that his resolve was growing with each minute the strength returned to him. It felt right to be protecting Theron again. He had spent many days wondering why he was fighting against his people and had not been entirely convinced that Gilden and Prios had decided on the right path for the towers.
“I must plead for mercy from them, and maybe forgiveness. In either case, do not tell the orcs anything. Have the golems melt away and reform around the city. None of the horde are to reach the walls.”
Parsethon nodded to his master, acknowledging his orders. Cenephon knew his construct had been waiting for him to come to his senses for some time. He was unsure of why tonight, in the fading light, he had found the strength to do what he had been afraid to do. As he let himself melt into the soil beneath his feet he began to travel along through the earth towards the city, travelling deep to hide his approach from those defending the walls.
He flowed through stone, around the now dead creatures of the dirt and soil as he became one with the surface of the world. Coming to the stone walls surrounding the city he follow the stone lane leading through the city, heading towards the hall that held the council in its heart. He could sense the souls of the people inside their homes. Their sense of fear made his stomach turn; he traveled faster still to reach his goal.
As he neared their gate he made a point to come out of the soil and reform on the steps in front of the guards. His presence was known to all by his yellow eyes, nearly glowing in the fading light. The guards cries called the building to arms, and he made no move other than to lift his hands on either side of his head.
The steel of the heavily armored guard carried the dull glow of the torch light. They were dressed in plate crafted by the forges of Prion from before this war had started. The craftsmanship bore the engraving of the section of wall depicted with arrow and sword being deflected. Sanctum had the reputation of a sanctuary against all onslaughts. Their high stone walls and heavily armed and well trained troops had bested any attacking army for the entire thousand years Cenephon had lived, it was why he was sent here. If anyone could break the city, it would be he and his mastery over the basis of their defenses.
“My god, he comes himself!” Cenephon turned to the figures standing at the top of the long flowing steps. The light of the chamber doors hid their faces but he knew them to be the rulers here. They wore the close fitting tunics of purple. The shirts were held by black sashes bearing the patchwork showing the years of service and tours of defense they had complete in their time of youth. Their black pants bore a single matching strip of purple down the outside of their left leg.
“Councilmen and councilwomen, I have come to ask for you to accept my surrender, and to accept the offer of aid from my golems.”
“Hardly! I say we kill him why we have the chance!” One of the shadowed faces said immediately.
“We don’t have any weapon that will work to kill him, and we cannot keep him prisoner.” Another shouted back.
Behind them all Cenephon noticed a woman in a flowing gown. The gown was white and though shadow still covered her face she seemed to glow with an inner light while the others were lost to him in their bickering. She stepped forward and as she did the council grew quiet, stepping aside to let her pass.
As she came closer Cenephon was held in thrall by her beauty in a way that caught him off guard. He could not look away from the vague suggestions of her form beneath, and the golden hair flowing down her head, a rippling wave coming down each side gently lying on her exposed neckline. He gasped when the torchlight finally revealed her face once she was within arm’s reach.
Standing before him was the wife of the Dragon King, Alexia of Goronwy. He bowed his head and kneeled, knowing her place his attempt to seek pardon would go farther if he showed her the respect she deserved as consort to a demigod.
“My lady. I did not know you were here. I am blind to your presence in my earth sight.” Cenephon stated calmly.
She did not speak, only stepped closer and placed a hand on his shoulder, gently and with a feathered lightness to it. He could feel her searching his soul, pressing her will against his, and in a flash it was gone.
“Accept his offer. The city will stand.” She said.