Chapter 15: The Twin Empires

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Many who had left Aestaria returned with exaggerated tales of fertile soil and giant crystals the size of boulders. But not all who left Aestaria seeking fortune actually found what they were looking for.

Some headed north to Celandine pursuing stories of previously unknown gold-shimmering crystals — Sun Crystals — that could absorb sunlight, as well as rumors of a second Great Tree nourished by the sun. They discovered neither, but they did carve out a life for themselves.

The Highmayne clan called their newly established home Windcliffe, while those who called themselves the Order of the Second Suns and the Lightchasers established the towering city of Sun Forge on the highest peak in Celandine. In time, the continent became home to the Lyonar Kingdoms.

Another hardy group of Aestari explorers chased similar tales northeast, to the exotic and mysterious continent of Xenkai. They found a harsh and dangerous land of wet jungles, frigid mountains, arid deserts, and ghostly predators at every turn. But they conquered the land, taming and riding many of these creatures, hunting and killing with deadly precision many others. These agile and lethal warriors were the forefathers of the Songhai Empire, and founders of the cities of Xaan and Kaido.

Travelling inland, they discovered the Twilight Spring, where dusk and dawn mixed together, blurring light and dark, life and death, blood and earth, animal and human. It was a place where boundaries merged, an aetherial vortex that allowed the Songhai to commune with their ancestors and spirit essence animals with mystical Twilight Seals, establishing the Ancestral Spirits and Zodiac Masks.

Although they could not transform into the animals themselves — like the Vanar — they could inherit the abilities and traits of their representative spirit animal. Some Songhai rulers later came to believe they were the physical descendants of their patron animal, including Kaleos the Ghost Tiger, Gen-Bo the Sable Tortoise, and Taegon the Citrine Dragon.

But these were not the only emigrants to Xenkai. Foreseeing the destruction of Aestaria and the birth of a future hero on the continent of Xenkai, the Chakri Avatars journeyed to the isolated Saberspine Mountains. Hidden on its steepest slopes, they built the Chakri Monastery, where they stayed, meditating in solitude, honing their skills, ready to return in Mythron's time of need.