The process to move the imperial palace to Nan Yanoi turned out to be a bit more time consuming than Neleh had initially thought. As the imperial guards, the Legion of the Phoenix had to move along with the palace. As a result, Neleh had to gouge up a fair bit of the area surrounding the palace, because it was necessary to take all the buildings belonging to the Legion as well. This included housing, training grounds, barracks and a whole slew of other buildings. At that point it became obvious that it would be easier if she moved the administrative buildings for the empire as well, which further complicated things.
It wasn’t really a problem of lifting more buildings, as once you had the strength to rip a piece of the city large enough to house the palace into the air, the additional buildings didn’t really make a difference. No, the problem was the politics and logistics of selecting which building to take, which people would be willing to move to Nan Yanoi and so on. Incidentally the Legion chose to move as a whole with not a single dissenting voice raised. These were the elite that had chosen to dedicate their life in the protection of the empress, and as such would go wherever the empress went. The bureaucrats hemmed and hawed for all their worth though.
Since it had already taken four days without actually getting things done, Neleh just finally cast the spell giving anyone in the area 40 seconds to get clear if they wanted to stay. The sight of bureaucrats running around was deeply satisfying to everyone else. Neleh figured that she already had a well-trained and decisive group at Nan Yanoi who could take over their duties, and she didn’t want people unable to make decision anyway. She even voiced this opinion getting an evil grin from the surrounding guards.
As the now floating island shook while rising into the air, Neleh thought to herself that it was actually a very good thing that the Legion was coming along with the palace. The Legion was the only group of soldiers that could rival the Order when it came to the skill of its members. While the training for the Order was exceptional and gave them an edge, it was hard to compete with the dedicated members of the Legion. Where the Order took in almost anyone and molded them into professionals through the breaking training, the members of the Legion trained their whole lives, dedicating themselves to their task. In addition the Legion only accepted the best and the most talented. It was simply impossible to bridge the gap of hundreds of years of dedicated training and consummate talent.
That said, the Legion was not a battlefield force despite its name. While the Order could field full armies, and in a few years would be millions of brothers and sisters strong, the numbers of the Legion had never crossed five thousand. They had one job, and that was to give their life in the protection of the Empress. They had only failed once throughout their long history, and were very good at what they did. On the other hand, they didn’t get trained in battlefield tactics as that was not required of them. They could probably do that as well, but that was not their purpose. So far Neleh had used members of the fifth Order for protection, as that protection was not really required when she was stronger alone than the entirety of the fifth Order combined.
However, Neleh knew that her freedom would be much more limited once she took the position as the empress. She would forever be followed by a group of guards, and she would no longer be able to go off gallivanting into the lands of the other races. She did mourn her loss of freedom a bit, but she also recognized the necessity. It had already been a bit on the borderline of civility to have the Chosen of Elune going around, but an empress would be too much. There was also the fact that she would most likely regain much of that freedom when the storm came, as she would be needed on the battlefield.
As they drew close to Nan Yanoi, Shiori raised a question that had been bothering her for a while now. “Neleh, didn’t you say that you’re unable to make a doorway on one of these floating islands? Yet we’re supposed to connect the palace with the city through one of the arches. Mind explaining that bit to me?”
Neleh looked surprised for a moment, and then a bit thoughtful. “Woops.” She finally said.
Shiori’s face was twitching a bit from several conflicting emotions. “That’s it? Woops? We already moved the palace!”
“No need to get so agitated. I can make mistakes too. Besides, it only needs a small adjustment. How much do you remember about me explaining the problems of teleportation magic?” Neleh asked with a reassuring smile.
“Most of it, but humor me anyway. I recall you said it was possible in theory but too complex in practice.” Shiori asked trying to remember details. Even for her it was a little challenging, because she had lost interest in the subject because it wasn’t really possible to do.
“Free teleportation is pretty much impossible, except over very short distances, and then it takes enough power and time that it would be faster to just run. That said, it does become a little easier between two fixed positions, because there’s no need to make the necessary calculations more than once. We could create a fixed portal between the city and the island with a portal that is constantly open and the power supplied by a couple of high quality Sources. I’ll need to cast the spell only once, and even if the portal closes for some reason, it’s much easier to open again between the same points. We have to keep the distance pretty short though. We can’t keep the portal open if the distance grows too much. I’ll have to probably use spells to fix the islands position in place through spatial magic. Otherwise we can’t connect my bedroom with the mansion in Nexus. That’s going to be a real pain. That will probably take me days.” Neleh mused thoughtfully.
“Wait, spatial magic? There’s magic like that? And if you’re fixing the position in place for doorways, then why not make a normal arch then?” Shiori asked a little confused.
“Well, for one we don’t want to give too free an access straight into the imperial palace. Although the Nexus has plenty of countermeasures against hostilities, that’s still a risk we might want to avoid. Besides, it will take me days to cast the necessary spells to fix the position, after which the island will be rendered immobile. I don’t’ have several days of free time before the festivities start, thanks to the bloody bureaucrats wasting our time. We need the portal in place in time for the event, and it’ll take me less time to make a stable portal instead. And yes, there’s such thing as spatial magic. I did mention that this world hasn’t discovered all the elements, did I not?” Neleh said, satisfying herself with the plans she was making. She could make a really ornate portal just for the theatric effect as well. Something shaped like a phoenix perhaps?
“I think you just don’t want to admit your mistake to anyone else.” Shiori mumbled mostly to herself.
Since the celebration of Nimue’s ascension had been hurried and shadowed by the preceding conflict, Neleh’s ascension would be a month long celebration in the city of Nan Yanoi, with much of the common populace visiting the new capitol city at some point during the festivities. The event also drew much more attention from the other races because of who was taking the position of the empress. Even in a normal situation, the crowning of a person ruling over one of the major races was a big deal, and the fact that it was Neleh made it even more so.
To the faeries, she was the savior of their race from the ravages of a plague, and the person who offered them sanctuary when they lost their home. It was obvious that their queen would attend the ceremony, even if she had not befriended Neleh before this. Similarly Neleh had made a deep impression with the beastmen and had helped with the problem of slavers from the human lands. The problem had not completely disappeared yet, but it was a large improvement compared to before. Combined with the rumors of Neleh’s power and influence in the elven lands, the beastmen had sent the chieftains of several of their largest clans and tribes to the ceremony.
The demons were slightly displeased with Neleh, but they respected her power, as she had defeated the previous demon lord in combat. As such, they wanted to form a connection with her despite their differences. The demons only had a demon lord if there was an individual powerful enough to grab the position, and a new one had not yet appeared. The demons often spent centuries without a demon lord, so this was not strange to them. Instead, they sent several of their more powerful individuals as a sign of respect. In fact, the Legion of the Phoenix was a little anxious about seven Great Silver ranked demons within the palace at the same time.
Azemar de Wolfe, the emperor of the humans was also in attendance with the two princes Alexis and Sanguinius. The dignified emperor would most likely not have attended personally, except the connection between the human and elven continents had already been established. As such, it only took him a few hours to get to Nan Yanoi, instead of the weeks long sea trip that would’ve otherwise been the only way to traverse between the two continents.
The celestials had actually sent most of their ruling council, as most of them wanted to attend especially after they heard about the floating palace. Floating islands had been a uniquely celestial thing before, and they wanted to see the person able to replicate the feat. It was actually quite impressive to see almost a hundred high ranking celestials in one place, with Anauel leading them of course.
The biggest commotion before the ceremony was caused by the naga. The Eternal Empress had never before visited the lands of other races after assuming her position, and most people alive today had not even seen her before. Yet here she was with a radiant smile, surrounded by a large group of Kenshin as her protection. Most people were by now aware of the alliance between Neleh and the Eternal Empress, yet her presence had come as a complete shock to them. What they didn’t know, was that she and the other Kirin had laid several eggs already, thus the need for her security had lessened somewhat. She also hoped that she could entice Neleh to pay another visit to the Coral Palace so that another clutch of eggs could be produced. She had also rather enjoyed the process of making the previous eggs.
Despite the gathering of these esteemed guests that had never before all been at the same place, the biggest surprises were yet to come. The ceremony itself was held in the grand throne room of the palace. As even that room was insufficient to hold all the important guests, only the most important ones were allowed within, with seating provided to the heads of the other races. Everyone had to draw breath as Neleh finally entered the room, allowing the full force of her presence to cow the gathered people into silence.
She normally held most of her presence in check for various reasons, so the effect came as a shock even to the people that knew her. She looked divine in a dress made from nothing but living flame that did not burn anything it touched. She had decided to attend the ceremony in her ‘Golden Goddess’ persona, taking the form of the seraph of golden flame. She had no need for adornments aside from the flaming wings, halo and the single tear present on her cheek. Everyone aside from the seated heads of the other races quietly knelt on one knee as she progressed through the center aisle and gracefully walked to the elevated throne at the end of the room. If she was called the Empress of the Immortal Flame by the naga, then she damn well planned to impress to everyone that she was worthy of that name.
It actually took a little prodding to get the priestess officiating the ceremony back into reality and started with the crowning itself. Nimue had wanted to do that part herself, but it would’ve been a little too much to have the previous empress crown the new one, so the other priestess handled that instead. The poor woman shook like a leaf, but managed to recite the words and vows required by the ceremony without stumbling. Finally she placed the diadem on Neleh’s head, signifying her rule. Incidentally, Neleh had gotten rid of the old crown that she had found to be too large and tacky, and had instead replaced it with a tasteful diadem made of silver colored metal, never before seen on this world. It was something she’d had Asariel acquire from another world. The decorations symbolized Elune and the three clans coming together.
A cheer loud enough to bury over anything else rose from the audience as Neleh straightened and rose to meet their eyes. The announcement went out to the city that the elves had a new empress, with the bells and gongs celebrating the moment. The people on the streets cheered as well. The announcement wasn’t actually necessary, as several large magical illusions showed the events in the throne room to the people in the city, and the cheering had started the same time as it did in the throne room, almost drowning out the bells and gongs.
As Neleh took her place on the throne, the various representatives came in a procession to give their congratulations and well wishes. Just as the Eternal Empress had given hers, the crowd on the center isle opened to give room to a group of powerful looking people with an aura similar but slightly weaker than Neleh’s approached the throne. The group consisted of beings of both genders and various races and was twenty people strong. Somehow everyone in attendance knew that these were not the original forms of these beings.
Neleh had a light smile as she recognized the man standing beside the leader of the group. The man also had a twinkle of amusement in his eyes. Neleh had sent a word about the event to Zamekh, but had not been sure if they would attend. Their timing was impeccable though.
The woman leading the group came before the throne and gave a small nod between equals, before giving her greeting. “Empress Neleh, in the name of the dragon race we give greetings to you, and congratulate you on your ascension. Well done sister and Chosen of Satai.” The woman’s bombshell resulted in a wave of astonishment to race through the gathered people. They now knew these were dragons, but most of them had been unaware of Neleh being the Chosen of Satai. And sister?
Neleh gave a similar nod in a return greeting. “You honor me with your presence. It is not often that the Eldest of all dragons makes an appearance.” This brought another shock.
They certainly had not expected the young looking woman to be the Eldest of the dragon kind. Neleh and the Eldest were actually quite similar in many ways. Both looked extremely young but had this ageless quality about them. They both also had eyes that told of countless ages they had seen. Yet another patch of theories and rumors were formed this day about Neleh’s origins when people later on remarked on the similarities.
“Please call me Malystryx. I heard that there was a party and I do like to attend parties. I expect the party to be worth my time.” The Eldest said with a small smile.
It turned out that the dragons were not the highlight of the proceedings. As the dragons retreated back to make ready for the celebrations, ten hazy figures suddenly appeared before the throne. One of the figures looked eerily like Neleh. The people gathered held their breaths as recognition dawned on them.
“On behalf of myself and my chosen race, I congratulate you on your ascension my Chosen.” The gruff voice belonged to Satai, who still managed to look a little disinterested.
All the other major gods made their own greetings, the two others besides the major gods being of course Loki and Aphrodite. They didn’t waste time on elegant speeches; they simply expressed their approval of her new position. Elune was the last to take her turn.
“Congratulations my love, I’m proud of you. I hope you will lead our chosen race to great things and shelter them from the storm. May your rule be long and prosperous.” The ever amused goddess gave a small conspiratorial grin and gave a fake whisper in a voice that was heard by everybody gathered. “And do visit me again. I quite enjoyed the last time you did.”
Neleh almost facepalmed at the thought of all the trouble and rumors that little whisper was going to cause. As it was hard for the gods to manifest themselves, they disappeared straight after completing their purpose.
Neleh did the customary procession through the city to show herself to everyone, despite the people already having seen everything through the illusions. The following celebrations lasted for a full month as was planned, during which all the food and drinks were free. Neleh had gone to great lengths to acquire the best this world had to offer, and then topped things off with delicacies from other worlds. Even as a Destroyer her skill in life magic allowed her to create enough meat, fruits and various delicacies and drinks from the other worlds to satiate the most important quests who all wondered on the origin of their meals. The mages made various spectacles with their spells, mimicking fireworks only better.
Neleh herself decided to make a grand gesture herself, although she thought the effect would be somewhat dampened after the appearance of the gods. When the first day of the celebrations drew to a close, Neleh changed her form in the full vision of everyone gathered. For a small moment, she once again assumed the form of the majestic bird of flame, covering the entire sky above Nan Yanoi with her form. She maintained the form just long enough to make a small screech of victory, while controlling her flames so as to avoid damage.
That small moment was the limit of her ability to hold the form, and she was completely drained afterwards. Of course she didn’t mention that part to anyone else. After she had bid goodnight to the gathered people, and gotten away from their eyes, she actually collapsed from exhaustion and had to be carried to bed by Shiori who knew how much that little stunt had taken out of her. Interestingly, this brought an emotional salute from the members of the Legion that lined the way to her bedroom. They didn’t help because they knew she didn’t want to be helped. They instead considered her actions to be a great honor for them, as she had taken the form of the being they were named after.
And thus began the reign of Empress Neleh Khalidor.
A/N: This was a bit odd chapter to write. The next one should be a bit longer as there's a lot of ground to cover. I also suspect it will be something that will cause discussion, and might even be a bit divisive, but should also be one of my better ones judging by the thoughts I have for it. Yes I'm leaving a cliffhanger in an author's note. I'm just that mean. Look forward to it. :)