The Tale of Solomon Soulhammer Pt. III
'By the Winter of 182 AR, Emperor Vezimmir's rule in Tiberia was almost complete. With shrewd diplomacy and ruthless military insight, he had decimated the Eturian Empire by first breaking a deal with Rollo, Warlord of the Vesi, to invade Datia. Most of Eturia's armies were off West fighting the Adamantians alongside the Drysians. However, to ensure that Datia never received aid from Eturia, Vezimmir orchestrated with the Reavers of Oskaria to descend upon Eturia's poorly defended coastal cities. It comes as no surprise that, with the fall of the Eturian Empire, her lands were in no shape to deny the Emperor's rule.'
With the Herald leading the way Solomon was introduced to the most powerful man in the world, Emperor Vezimmir the First of House Calmcacil, Son of the Light, High Lord of Imperia, and Lord of Riversheart. The man before Solomon was all of twenty four years old but had the appearance of a man thrice his age, his hair and beard having gone pure white and his skin, while smooth, was aged a dull bronze, no doubt from his formative years growing up in the lands of Rokua and Ergia before that.
It was his eyes, so light blue as to be almost entirely white, that made Solomon sure in his new found faith in the Light for this man before him had sacrificed everything to have guided the Holy Empire to it's rise. Vezimmir was garbed in simple, but expensive, armor unadorned with markings and his personal tent was austere to the point of spartan, a cot and a small table with two high back chairs made up the Emperor's personal adornments. It was the campaign table, furnished in dark Jakil wood from the hills of Ardra, that dominated the tent and it was there that Vezimmir chose to stand, looking down once more at it after breaking eye contact with the Datian youth.
'To bring the Light to these shores Datia and Eturia must first be cleansed.' The words uttered so quietly did not at first register with Solomon, having become lost in the details of the map on the campaign table. It was the lands of Tiberia in such perfect detail that Solomon swore that if he was to touch the map, he would fall to Tiberia from a great, impossible height. It was only with great difficulty did Solomon looked up at the Emperor with dismay as he realized the implications of what the Emperor had just said,'You would kill so many to rule this land?'
Emperor Vezimmir once more looked up the Datian youth and frowned,'This Empire I have built is not for me to rule. Nor for my son or his son although...they might forget that lesson.' The Emperor paused and for once made contact with his herald who had produced wine glasses from seemingly nowhere,' It's for you and those who survive the wars so that the stupid might be convinced the hard way. It's so that the Light might shine upon us all once more rather than being devoured by the Void. The Void which so desperately wants the power you now possess.' At that break, the herald had moved forward and poured a dark amber liquid into both wine glasses.
'Golden Wine from the Shaar River Valley of Illyria. My only vice.' The Emperor took a minor sip while Solomon did likewise. Instead of being greeted with a taste as the liquid hit his taste buds, a vision of a broad, gently rolling vista overtook his eyesight, the feel of the warm Light and the smell of flowers in the air-- the vision halted abruptly as the liquid left his mouth and went down his throat. Solomon blinked rapidly at the herald and Emperor who smiled guiltily at the Datian youth,'Apologies. We forgot to include a warning about the visions that come with the Wine.'
'What of my homeland?'
'Rollo is a warlord of a barbarous people but he has already slaked their lust on Rodes. The rest of the invasion will be more smooth and less bloody. Already, Eturia is beginning to feel the wrath of the Reavers. Their capital is burning.' At a gesture from the Emperor the campaign map clouded and then slowly resolved to look over the city of Eturia, as if an eagle peered down at the city. From his vantage point at the map, Solomon could see that most of the city was burning as bands of dark violet-skinned people either killed or enslaved their way through the city.
Shock and dismay ran through him in equal measures.'They've killed so many...so many enslaved...for what? How does what you do so much better than what the Void would deliver us?!'
Vezimmir, with another wave of his hand, clouded the map once more. When the fog lifted the map was once more showing the lands of Tiberia, pristine and without blemish. No death.'The only difference is the method and execution I'm afraid at this juncture. But you must understand Solomon. Eturia and her Emperor thought I was weak after the Crusade and the loss of my half brother in Rokua. He attacked Adamantia, a land guided by the Light, and betrayed my trust. For that, his lands and his people must be made to obey. His empire will be torn apart and divided piecemeal between those loyal to me. For the loss of your family at the hands of the Vesi, to which none can be blamed but me, I can only beg your forgiveness. But I will not say I would not do it again. Your pain, your family, all of it, is nothing compared to what is at stake here.'
Despite the harsh pain and wrath that coursed through Solomon's body, a quiet corner of his mind forced Solomon to consider the words of the Emperor.'For what you have done to my home and my family, I will never forgive you. But nor can I forget the Power that now flows in me, a Power to which you recognize and can help me come to understand. For that, I will make peace with you in exchange that those civilians who followed me be given safe conduct and protection here in Rhune.'
Vezimmir went to speak, nodding his head while he did but at a pause from Solomon he allowed the Datian to speak once more,'But know this Emperor, while my Power urges me to ally with you and your Cause, I guide the Power, not you or anyone else.'
Part of the Holy Empire Codex.
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Update: Part of the Holy Empire Codex.
I like how this is unfolding.
Ditto. This is excellent.
Thank you both. Pt. IV is in the works.
This is a great setup. The last two paragraphs really locked me down into the I want to read more camp. It sets up both the characters and the conflict nicely. Also I like Solomon's dialog and identity in these stories is very old school with regard to style and conception. Post-modern literary styles make us leery of any character that professes to have self-knowledge or even self-possession. It is nice to have a story where the characters are what they say they are and say what they mean. Thus don't have to go any of these journeys of self-discovery or redefinition.