Sunday, February 28, 2016

The New Emperor

"I don't need you to come with me," Dran said. He stood in a room of perfect ice. Crystals grown over the course of hours, so flawless they were transparent.
"This is important," Marius responded. "You need all the help you can get."
"Marius, I know you want what is best for me and the cause, but your presence will be counterproductive. When the time comes, I will be sure to make use of you, just as I will use every resource at my disposal."
Dran spoke the True Name of ice. The crystals around him reassembled themselves into a suit of armor, covered in protruding spines, so transparent a casual observer might not even see it. Dran spoke the name again, and the spines receded.
"Marius, in a few hours I will either be commander of the world's largest army, or else dead. Either way..." Dran thought about his fellow potioner. His rival, his student, and his friend. "Goodbye, Marius."

As Dran walked through the Etoran camp, he could feel his heart pounding. He knew the danger he was walking into. A few people had approached him, wanting to confront the strange outsider. They were dead. Dran was not in a mood for distractions.
As he walked, the tents grew bigger. They grew grander. Dran was no longer surrounded by foot soldiers. He saw officers. Then nobles. Finally, he reached the center of Etoran command. A large tent. Dran stood outside for a moment, savoring the last moment of life as he knew it. Then, he stormed in, a flurry of snow at his back, his voice booming with the sounds of magical enhancement. "My name is Dranarius Caesorium. I am your rightful Emperor."
The generals drew their swords. "You are no Emperor. You are a sorcerer. Prepare to-" The man had trouble finishing the sentence with a shard of ice lancing through his skull.
Dran approached his cousin's corpse. It was dressed in a frankly absurd quantity of regalia. Dran wondered who had decided to bring that much royal clothing to a field of war.
The crown rested upon Anaxus' head. The Caesorium's were a powerful family of sorcerers, and their magic would not allow someone from another line to wear their crown. Dran cracked a smile at his countrymen, who thought that simple charm was a blessing from Thacanarion.
"Let this be a lesson to anyone who doubts my lineage," Dran proclaimed, as he lifted the crown from his cousin's head, and placed it upon his own.
There was a look of moderate surprise from the onlookers. "We leave tonight," Dran ordered. "My cousin's senseless war is over. Without this army, Koteph will break. We will rebuild the Empire. It will be strong in war and wealth and magic. Get to work."
By this point, the generals had begun to come to terms with what was happening. They knew that explicit rebellion dissent would get them killed. Better to play along, leave, and crush this pretender beneath the entire Etoran army.
Dran knew what they were thinking of course. "You," he said, pointing at an unlucky general. "You would rebel against me. Don't deny, I saw it in you mind." Dran could do nothing of the sort, but he expected this crowd lacked a detailed knowledge of what magic could accomplish. "You die." The man died.
Dran waited, as the generals got their word out. There was a new man, a stranger, who seemed to be of the Caesorium line. He was the Emperor. For the moment at least. After waiting what he judged to be the optimal amount of time, Dran flew into the air to address his subjects. He did not get the chance.

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