Chapter 17: Ascension of Emperor Sargos

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22,465 - 22,745 AE

Aestaria flourished in peace and prosperity, its majestic cities agleam like the crystals whose power they were built upon. The Thirteen Aspects guided the Aestari and secretly kept their worst impulses in check.

For while Aestaria was outwardly a land of shining beauty, soaring white towers, and jeweled mantles, inwardly, greed and corruption had seeped into the people’s hearts, undermining their once idealistic society with cloying narcissistic decay. As the continents tried to assert their independence, Aestaria treated them as vassal nations, collecting a tribute tax in the form of crystals for the privilege of being part of the Aestari Empire.

This was the Aestaria in which the boy emperor Sargos ascended to power. Intellectually curious, with an insatiable appetite for science, magic, and books of all sorts, young Sargos was beloved by his people, and respected by the Thirteen Aspects. Early in his reign, while studying in the Alcuin Library, Sargos found fragments that hinted of a Second Empire.

He summoned Valknu, Vaath, and Starhorn, who reluctantly confirmed the prophecy that claimed a new empire would rise from the ashes of the old.

But they would reveal nothing else. For the first time, Sargos suspected they were keeping something from him. Resuming his studies, he found no other mention of the prophecy. When he went to reconfirm his earlier findings, the ancient tomes in which he first found mention of the Second Empire had vanished.

Sargos was convinced Valknu was hiding the truth. Thus were planted the first seeds of Sargos’ distrust of the Thirteen Aspects, a deepening strife that festered within Sargos’ soul.

By the time Emperor Sargos was a young man, Aestaria was already in decline. But Sargos never forgot the prophecy of a greater Second Empire, and he continued to dream of a unified Aestaria whose true greatness lay ahead. Sargos saw the Lyonar, Vetruvians, and Songhai flourishing on the strength of their crystal resources, but he knew the ultimate source of those crystals was the Weeping Tree, which grew on Aestari soil.

Seeking a way to reassert Aestari hegemony, he conceived of a plan to build a massive, towering structure that would not only symbolize Aestari primacy and dominance, it would ensure it for millennia to come.

He called it The Monolith.