SIEGE OF THE THRONE (II)
The moon shafted the sun from the sky, or at least those seeing the scenery from deep down below believed; the shining day grimed while streets laden with light turned completely barren of it. Yet, high in the mighty sky rested not the moon over the sun, but an army superseding the imaginations of many.
High above, piercing through the fleeting clouds, was a warship reaching staggering length of over four kilometers with width just over half that. By its sides were numerous, curious-looking arrays flickering in deep shade of azure as they spun like wheels, their sheen brushing past the whisks of smoke being blown back out through round, metallic pipes size of a man’s thigh at ship’s sides.
The warship had four layers in total, its height just shy of three hundred meters, and could at any moment station over twenty thousand men if necessary. Upfront was a massive object, pure white in color, depicting a helix-like shape with blades cutting through its openings and hilts made of pure, molten gold.
At its helm were several dozen figures all clad in fantastical armors ranging in color from night’s black to morning’s sweet, warm coral. Behind the men, atop the main deck, squadrons of soldiers were standing in a flat, rectangular formation, numbering anywhere between a few thousands to an entire ten. Unlike those men before them, soldiers were clad in same armors, only dyed in specific colors; shining silver with a sigil of clouds embroiled on their chests standing for Sky Legion; muddy black with a red-eyed crowed as a sigil upon their chest standing for Crow Legion and blazing-hot red with mix of yellow with a sigil of dragon’s head standing for Dragon Legion.
Instead of wind and masts the warship used advanced magics to operate, draining Qi from the world directly into its cornerstone cabinet where a gear-stacked machine repeatedly spun, converting Qi into usable energy which was then spat out form the back-end of the ship, propelling it forward.
The warship was one of Divine Dynasty’s greatest creations and there were only three currently in existence, the current one helmed by Duke Erdicth, National Hero from the War of Torments thirty years ago when eight Clans of Demonic Battlefield banded together and invaded the borders of the Empire.
Though no one was certain of his actual age, he resembled a man in his sixties with stout body frame and deep voice and eyes which could make even the bravest cower. He was clad entirely in plated armor made from precious, [Sun-dragon Metal] and was currently standing with his hands behind his back at the ship’s helm, looking down at the Palace.
Even if his family had for many generations remained loyal to the Imperial Family, he himself was always different; he had ambitions blasting past merely remaining a loyal dog of the Emperor, forever chained by arbitrary laws and sent to the battlefield to die ‘for glory’. He’d been planning for almost ten years today’s events, and was beyond confident in succeeding; he himself would hoist the Crown and become Emperor, heralding Divine Dynasty into a new age.
Just as the warship reached roughly half a mile point before the Palace, it suddenly stopped; moving any further would no doubt move them directly into the formation, and though he was confident in victory, he wasn’t that confident. The rest of the army could now be seen moving from afar toward them, either riding Demonic Beasts or flying on swords.
Erdicth’s eyes flickered for a moment as he suddenly saw three figures emerge from the Palace and take to the sky; one of them was a woman defying description of beauty and even he, who had wed dozens and bedded thousands, couldn’t help but feel the flame of youth rekindle. Such was Princess Evelyn, pride and horror of every citizen; Erdicth was indeed surprised when he first found out she was being Crowned, as he wished to make her his last wife. However, that was no longer possible.
Unlike her usual wardrobe, she now wore flexible armor with interweaving silver and black hues. Her hair was, however, left freely to float by wind’s whims, enchanting her already terrifying beauty even further. Her eyes were like two amnesty gems shining inside the skull’s sockets, yet ones depicting intellect and wisdom beyond age.
By her side were two men clad in full-body armor, and even Erdicth couldn’t help but feel sweat break out of his back. Beyond all other opposition, he - and the rest of Nobles who sided with him - feared these two the most... Sons of the Damned... who among high-standing hadn’t heard of that name and the horrors associated with it? While the two standing by Evelyn were individually mostly unknown, it didn’t matter; mere association with that Legion lent them more credibility than anything else ever could.
“... shame.” Evelyn suddenly said, her eyes looking at the warship and all those abroad it with frigid gaze full of murderous intent. “Truly a shame, Uncle.”
“... why bother with the talk?” Erdicth asked. “We both know it won’t lead nowhere.”
“I simply wonder...” Evelyn said, suddenly looking down toward the ground. “What will the commoners think when they see your head spiked atop a pole on the Central Plaza for all to see? Will they think their Empress cruel and bloodthirsty beyond reason? National Hero... murdered and displayed like a prized artifact for all to see.” she leveled her eyes once again with his. “It writes an intriguing tale, no?”
“...” Erdicth, naturally, didn’t respond to the obvious provocation. “Greater shame is that Lady was born a woman with a wit of a man.” he instead fired back.
“If the wit of a man is reflected in you, I would rather have wit of an ape.” Evelyn said, smiling faintly. “Ye all, heed the words of your Empress!” she then ignored Erdicth, suddenly shouting toward everyone else - both those abroad the warship and those just now reaching the place on the beasts or swords. “Whomever shall point their blade at Me and My Loyal Subjects shall be subjugated and executed without trial, publicly displayed for a year at minimum and one additional for each life you take! Think wisely, lest it becomes the last time you ever thought.”
“... words are meaningless, Evelyn,” Erdicth said, sighing. “We all knew what awaited us should we fail, which is why ensured we would not fail.”
“... fool.” Evelyn mumbled, sighing herself. “Weight of the Crown is not something the likes of you can bear.”
Regarding it pointless to talk any longer, Evelyn raised her arm suddenly whereupon lights lit up like stars in a spherical shape surrounding the Palace - it was activation of the formation - <Formation of the Sun> - helmed by Duke Rog’thar and his men. Soldier after soldier spurted from the Palace and took to the sky, encasing the structure like a swarm of bees protecting their hive. Above all stood fluttered Evelyn and her two guards who dispersed toward the warship’s helm, drawing out their weapons - greatsword and a runeblade - preparing to engage with Dukes.
Meanwhile, Evelyn herself took further up toward the sky, above the first sphere, where she was met with three individuals hovering in the air cross-legged, bald in head, wearing simple, brown robes, their hands clasped together before their chest, golden beads mingled into their fingers.
Behind them, beneath the banner depicting a flayed man, nearly four thousand people were standing in a half-circular formation, facing her. Yet, despite it all, there was not an ounce of fear on her face, merely frigid indifference.
“... you have come, Empress.” one of the three men upfront, sitting in the central position, appearing the oldest, spoke out in somewhat ancient voice. “Truly, blood of His Divinity runs through your veins.”
“... what courage could I possibly need when facing ancient relics and disgraced Sons and Daughters of the Forgotten Kingdom?” Evelyn replied.
“... and his tongue, too.” the man added, opening his eyes. Strangely, he had three irises, each shaped like stars, glittering faintly. “Just like him, indeed, you intend to ignore our warnings repeatedly.”
“If a wise word were destined to leave your lips, both Royal Father and I would have listened, Seers. However, it does not. Writs and their Bearers are figures of legends living beyond the ocean,” she said, her eyes turning into slits. “Yet, all I ever heard from your lips dating back to my childhood were warnings about their descent and plunder.”
“... both Empress and His Divinity are wise beyond man’s wit,” the man spoke yet again. “And strong enough to shake the cornerstones of world, given enough time. However... Writs are something transcendent of this World, Your Highness. They are relics of the Void endowed with Seed of Creation as much as one of Destruction. Unlike all else - Mother herself included - they also transcend Fate. Unbound... unchained.”
“I have heard of the limericks depicting them since the day Royal Father had sent me to study under you, Govar,” Evelyn said. “Yet, all I ever truly heard were fables and tales of lifetimes ago, beyond the recorded histories. I stand here before you today, with mind open to change; tell me, teach me Govar,” Evelyn added with a faint trace of emotion. “Prove me Writs are all you claim them to be and that their Bearers will grace our lands with their presence. Prove me, and I shall end this pointless conflict right now and dedicate years of my rule to your cause.”
“... I can’t do that, young one,” the man called Grovar shook his head while a smile full of bitterness emerged upon his lips. “Though it pains me to say, even I cannot fathom Fate and its whispers; I cannot clearly hear Mother’s words and her warnings. In the end, all I can ever do is try to understand them to the best of my possibilities. Without faith, I would be for naught, and without faith, you cannot and will not trust me on my plea alone.”
“... very well,” Evelyn said, lowering her head for a moment and sighing. “So be it. Let the legends of Mother’s Children and Fate’s Chosen forever be extinguished on this day.”
Meanwhile, graciously far away, sat a beggar-looking youth looking at the sky above while rocking left and right inside an improvised bed linked to two trees. Thanks to his understanding of the Divine Sense he’d gotten over the past few years, he was able to hear and see everything that had transpired above - and thanks to the Writ, nobody else realized it. Listening to Evelyn’s conversation with Sky Seers surprised him somewhat, especially with the mention of Mother and Fate, as both subjects interested him very much.
“... what’s your take on it?” Lino suddenly asked nothingness.
“... they are misinterpreting the signals,” the robotic voice replied after short silence. “Fate and Gaia sound to be in concert according to them, yet they are not.”
“... one is a warning, then, and one is a promise?”
“... it’s amazing,” Lino sighed. “Even with such weak souls they are able to even fathom Fate’s existence. She’s making a terrible mistake.”
“... you can prevent it.”
“... I’d rather not get entangled in this mess.” he said. “It’s well above my paygrade.”
“I thought you aren’t being paid.”
“... there’s no need for me to step in,” Lino smiled faintly. “She won’t have a heart to kill them. I’m more interested in those behind the Seers... Sons and Daughters of the Forgotten Kingdom? Is she referring to the surviving descendants of Oreb Kingdom?”
“... analysis supports it.”
“Heh... interesting...” Lino suddenly smirked as his eyes flashed in strange glint. “I didn’t think there’d be any living out in the open, yet... look at them. Leaders of Three Counties. Perhaps I could catch a straggler or two and ask them a few questions... ah, the show’s about to start. I’m really interested in Evelyn’s two guards. First time seeing actual Exalted in action... it should be as terrifying to the ancient Dukes as it should be fun for me...”