Chronicles of Arcania: The Emperor’s Court

The Revolutionary War of Arcania was predominantly between the fledgling spellcaster nation led by Michael Arcanon and the Mannish Empire led by Emperor Conrad II. However, as Arcanon spent most of the war on the island of Arcania and the Emperor led his forces remotely from the capital of Vandal. However, the two did converse on a small number of occasions, such as the following in 79 AC.
The Emperor stewed in his throne that day. A minister stood beside him, reciting from scrolls and parchments in an attempt to appease his ill mood. Business and order demanded his attention, when chaos and disloyalty drew it from them.

Few loyalties remained in the expansive room, few men stayed to marvel at its impressive architecture and wealthy adornments, at this time of day the hall of marble and gold was typically privy only to the Emperor and the advisers he personally summoned before him. This babbling and stammering minister of economy was rarely among them, but business demanded his presence inevitably on this day.

A gust blew, bringing with it the golden leaves of autumn from the orchards beyond the white walls, which scuttered and fluttered along the floor. A white dove flew to an empty windowsill, silent and delicate.

At this, the Emperor sat up.

The dove, simply, flew away out the crack of the heavy oak doors separating nature from the prestige of the imperial chamber. But for a single white feather left hanging in the air, not a trace remained of its passage, and again the Emperor slumped back in his throne, light glistening upon his paternal armour. “Damn witches”, he cursed beneath his breath.

Suddenly a crackle arose, arcs of lightning and clashes of solemn and demure thunder whistled through the room. The Emperor sat bolt upright as the minister cowed from the display, bright colours flickering from midair, with no sign of cause or creator. A flash of light washed over them like some great wind, and suddenly three remained within the hall.

Stood but metres from the golden throne of Mann, atop the marble floors men would certainly kill to stride across, was the flickering, incorporeal visage of the one man the Emperor would surely kill to have at his mercy.

Michael Arcanon.

“Apologies for the unanounced arrival, we are having difficulty communicating in a more conventional fashion, I’m sure you can understand.”

The Emperor registered this spectacle for a moment, observing the apparition in his sanctum, and as he did the scowl upon his face drew ever more contorted and crumpled. “Blasted witch-king!” he cried, hurling the minister’s latest scroll at the image.

“Arcanon will suffice, Emperor Conrad” it retorted, bluntly and with little motion, as the scroll passed through it and clattered on the ground.

“What business have you in this hall? What declaration could you give me now?” The image watched silently as the Emperor rose to his feet upon the steps of his empire. “If you wish to surrender your traitors and your waves, I would meet you at the gallows for your heresy.”

“We do not intend to surrender Emperor, we intend to survive.” At this, Conrad let out a laugh.

“And with what army shall you withstand the greatest military force ever assembled upon this earth? With what great power and strength will you and your island strike down the largest empire it has ever seen?”

“Yours.” The image scowled for a moment, as the Emperor searched for a response. “We want to discuss your war against us.”

“And who is this “we”, when I see only one man before me? What democracy is this when one man speaks for the whole?”

“It is a democracy which supports itself, and I speak for its wishes. You fight to eradicate us for our unwillingness to submit to your wills and whims where you do not wish to, but all we ask for is peace and freedom from your servitude.”

“Servitude?” He cocked his head. “You call it servitude when a king asks for a knight to swing his blade? When a storemaster asks his employee to ready the tonics and salves? When an Emperor asks that his martials attack?” He sneered at the minister cowering still behind the throne. “I subject your kind to servitude no more than I do a horse beneath me or a hound at my side.”

“Yet you distinguish us as our own “kind”? You say we all must work within the arm of your government and prostrate ourselves to your will and libraries. We cannot leave this empire with anything resembling the civility of your highest general or your lowest rodent scuttering his way through the sewers.”

The Emperor considered his words carefully, contemplating the steps engraved with the names and words of his predecessors. “You demand equality? Alright. I grant you your equality, and I shall treat you, and those that follow you, as I would any soldier or rodent that thought to challenge my rule.” He stood but feet from the shimmering ghost. “I will put you all, to the axe and the hangman’s noose.”

For a moment, silence engulfed the hall. No leaves scuttered about, no birds sang from outside, and even the whimperings of the minister fell silent, as though death had crept in through the crack and breathed it all into the grave. At last, as the Emperor began once again to sneer, he got his response.

“Try us.”

He was taken aback, and struggled for a moment to keep his balance beneath the weight of his chainmail and gold.

“Centuries have passed and none have claimed this land but witches and spellsmiths before us. It does not abide fools, warlords, or empires. You must try hard indeed to bring us to your “justice”, for the armies of the divine and the arcane stand united against you, and we will see ours first.”

The Emperor struggled for breath. At last he indulged his foul mood. “Get out of my hallway, witch king.” He turned to his throne, and began to lift his feet for the steps once more. “This Empire has survived threats for the reigns and the regents of my forefathers, and it will survive you. The winds of this land will tear a course through your ships and your boats, and it will rock the stone and sand you build your houses in, and it will strike your pitiable island clean of you.”

“We can command the winds as well, Emperor. But for us, it is neither metaphor nor boast.” The image flickered once again, and stood between Conrad and his beloved throne. It glared down at him, as a judge to a felon. “And if we cannot force them to hold back your empire, then the storms that cradle this pitiable rock you fight us for…”

Slowly and forcibly, the illusory man vanished from view, his words echoing for an instant in the ears of the shuddering minister and the boastful, and dumbstruck, emperor.

“…will do so themselves.”

Posted by: Lying

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