Chapter 20: The Coming of Rasha
22,745 - 22,870 AE
As Aestaria’s dependence on imported crystals far outstripped even the onerous tribute taxes imposed on the vassal continents, it began to accumulate massive debts. The mercantile class became increasingly powerful. With few opportunities in the moribund Aestari economy, military service gained in popularity among the increasingly disaffected Aestari youth — and it gained in prestige, as well.
This shift in the socio-economic paradigm gave birth to an elite warrior class, called the Fists of Akrane in honor of the legendary Swords of Akrane from the Age of Wonder. By the time an ambitious young soldier named Rasha became the Lord Marshall of the Realm, the mercantile and warrior classes represented the true power in Aestaria — reducing Emperor Sargos to little more than a figurehead.
Rasha had enlisted as a commoner orphan with no royal blood and had quickly risen up through the ranks to Field Marshal during the Shadowlands campaign. He transformed the Fists of Akrane into the dominant military power in Aestaria. Led by Rasha, they pushed their own agenda and won the hearts of the common people, who saw Emperor Sargos as ineffectual and the Great Aestari Council as an inefficient bureaucracy run by privileged elites in lofty white towers.
As part of the Inner Council, Lord Marshall Rasha supported the Emperor’s view that construction of the Monolith should continue to completion. Rasha agreed it was critical that Aestaria not be dependent on external resources in the future. However, he also thought Aestaria was weakened by its reliance on foreign trade and the mercantile class.
He believed a simpler strategy to meet Aestaria’s needs was to take what it wanted using its unrivaled military. Out of the Fists of Akrane, he developed the Kurikan, or Swift Wind, a secret sect of elite assassin spies answerable only to him. Valknu warned Sargos of Rasha’s growing power, but Sargos no longer trusted the Magmar or their motives and quickly dismissed the warnings as just another one of their misleading ploys.