Chapter 21: Rasha's Betrayal and the Eternal Empire

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22,885 - 22,905 AE

'It’s better to be hanged for loyalty than be rewarded for betrayal.' -Valknu, Thirteen Aspects

Emperor Sargos rejected Rasha’s aggressive militarism, and it became a source of growing animosity between them. After one of many arguments on how to control the provinces, Rasha sought solitude within the unfinished Monolith’s Inner Sanctum. Without knowing that someone else hid in the shadows, he snapped a sacred twig from the Weeping Tree. Viscous red sap wept from the wound, The Tears of Eyos.

Curious, he tasted it, and immediately felt a wellspring of magical power surge through his veins. Eyos’ lifeblood augmented his physical strength and drastically improved his ability to Bind and Surge his magic far beyond even crystal-enhanced levels. Rasha kept his discovery secret, surreptitiously returning to consume the sap again and again. With this new source of magical energy, he consolidated his power, enhanced his military force, and with his Kurikan enforcers, imprisoned his political enemies.

His continued exposure to the Tears of Eyos eventually overwhelmed Rasha's mind, driving him mad with power and an unquenchable thirst for more. Under the cover of night, Rasha and his Kurikan swept through the Grand Trianon and the Aestari Palace, ignobly murdering Sargos in his bedchamber. His warband invaded each school of the Seventh Sanctum, executing any who remained loyal to Sargos.

Valknu alone put up a heroic fight, but he was ultimately no match for the combined power of Rasha’s forces. Sargos had shared his suspicions that the Magmar were hiding something powerful, so Rasha threw Valknu into the palace’s deepest dungeon and tortured him in a futile effort to learn the Magmar’s secrets. Though imprisoned, Valknu magically communed with his fellow Magmar, warning them of Rasha’s betrayal.

Rasha proclaimed himself the High Emperor, the Lord Magnus. He renamed Aestaria, “The Eternal Empire,” believing himself the fulfillment of the Prophecy of Ages. As Rasha’s madness and addiction made him increasingly brutal, stories of his opponents’ imprisonment and slaughter spread, entire families murdered, their ancestral homes burned to the ground.

Some Aestari rebels hid in the mountains, but many more fled across the increasingly turbulent oceans. A small number even reached Kaero and the other continents, but many more drowned or were hunted down. As the unfinished Monolith lay all but forgotten, Rasha and his armies turned their attention outward.